Picks and Pans Review: Splash
Here's the comedy catch of the year: a fantasy about a man and a mermaid that's inventively naughty and nice. Tom (TV's Bosom Buddies) Hanks plays a Manhattan wholesale-produce market owner who is bored with his love life (though his brother, SCTV's John Candy, is still having a lively leer of it). Hanks retreats to Cape Cod to think through his life. He falls off a boat and is rescued by a gorgeous blond creature, Daryl (Blade Runner) Hannah, who quickly splashes back into the sea. Later, back in New York, the mermaid comes looking for her man—her tail magically replaced by delectably long legs. She can't speak, except for phrases she picks up from a bank of department store TV sets, but she hooks Hanks. The plot complications include a villainous marine scientist, played by Eugene Levy (another SCTV vet), who thinks a squirt of water will zap the girl's legs back into a tail. Okay, the idea's been used before, in 1948's Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid. Some of this film is silly sitcom stuff. But Candy is so full of low-comedy life, he's a riot just standing there. And the romance at the heart of the movie glows. Hanks proves a thoroughly charming hero. And Hannah seems a major talent in her first crack at comedy; she's a beauty with a rambunctious Carole Lombard bounce. The real triumph, though, belongs to director Ron Howard. Is the gawky TV kid from The Andy Griffith Show and Happy Days (he's 30 now) really a filmmaker to reckon with? His work on Night Shift (1982) suggested he might be, and Howard gives this sunny, unpretentious picture unexpected poignancy. It's the best time to be had at the movies since Tootsie. (PG)
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