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Michael Keaton vs. Tom Hanks

posted by Dave on 5/30/01

There are some things about Hollywood that I just don't get. Make that there's a lot of things about Hollywood that I don't get... and this just happens to be one of them.

You see a long time ago there were two actors: Michael Keaton and Tom Hanks. For all intents and purposes these two men were interchangable. Their careers started off on pretty much the same route... on television. Keaton had his "sitcom", Working Stiffs, which co-starred the shit that was left over after John Belushi was born... Jim; and Hanks starred on the cross dressing comedy Chyna errr... I mean Bosom Buddies. At the time, Bosom Buddies was actually one of the most popular sitcoms in the country... while "Working Stiffs" was cancelled more quickly than the 2001 children's series Lil' Kim and Her Magical Talking Camel Toe

Hey! Hey!! Ugh! Ugh! Ugh! Ugh! Ugh!

What?! No!! Come back... I swear. No more pics of Lil Kim's Magical Talking Camel Toe from here on out.

Michael Keaton was the first to have big screen success, being critically praised for stealing away the 1982 movie Night Shift from then bigger "star", Henry Winkler. Wow... people said he stole the show from Henry Winkler. That must have felt about as good as being told that you're better looking than the kid from the The Indian in the Cupboard

You two donkeydicks couldn't get laid in a morgue.

While Hanks was still wearing dresses and hanging out with Peter Scolari (who would go onto the greatest fame of all... getting to play Rick Moranis' character in a syndicated television version of Honey, I Shrunk's Hit Count)... Keaton was breaking through on the big screen something fierce, with the uproarious romp, Mr. Mom.

Are you gonna make it all 220? Yeah. 220, 221, whatever it takes.

Come 1984, Hanks finally shed his bosoms and hit the big screen, albeit with a little help from John Candy, in the hit comedy Splash. Meanwhile, Keaton was carrying Joe Piscopo to his only watchable movie appearance in Johnny Dangerously. That same year, Hanks also proved he could carry a movie, shouldering a load of nobodies including Adrian Zmed in Bachelor Party. Say it with me... Adrian Zmed. Fun, ain't it?

The mid-80's were hit or miss for both of these actors. Keaton was caught between a rock and a hard on making the memorable Gung Ho... but also floundering with the very forgettable Touch and Go, in which he had to convince co-star Maria Conchita Alonzo that he was indeed not the "Butcher of Bakersfield" Ben Richards. The Running Man humor. It's special, folks.

Writer's Note: "Gung Ho" was so engraved in my brain that I swear to God when I started working for Bank of Tokyo... I was waiting for one of the Japanese guys in my office to exclaim, "Ok.. a jumping a jacks" my first morning there.

Hanks, on the other hand, was making some real classics like Volunteers, The Mony Mony Pit, The Man With One Red Shoe, and Nothing in Common during this time period.

It was in 1988, that the foreshadowing of what the future would hold took place. Keaton, took the more daring choice, choosing the title role in Tim Burton's Beetlejuice... in which he played it with over the top perfection. Meanwhile, Hanks chose the movie Big, which for my money, was on the same level as the other "body switching" movies of the day, Like Father, Like Son and Vice Versa... In my opinion, Hanks' performance ranked somewhere lower than Dudley Moore's but a little higher than Judge Reinhold's in basically the same role. Way to go, Tom.

Of course, my opinion means nothing... because the illustrious ACADEMY took it upon itself to bestow Hanks with a Best Actor nomination. Seriously, go back and watch the two movies and tell me that Hanks gave a better performance than Keaton. Matter of fact, I think Keaton played his role so well, that people tend to forget that he's even under the makeup and just look at Beetlejuice as Beetlejuice.

Hanks parlayed his Oscar nomination into such gems as:

Punchline - Oh.. stand up comedy isn't funny. I get it.

The 'Burbs - Wow.. he got to co-star with Corey Feldman.

Turner and Hooch - Wow.. he got to co-star with a dog named after a slang term for a woman's vagina.

speaking of vagina....

Hey! Hey!! Ugh! Ugh! Ugh! Ugh! Ugh!

Okay. So I lied.

While Hanks was making his shitty movies, Keaton was busy making a little movie called:

Batman and Hooch

Many people didn't like Keaton being cast in the role of he Caped Crusader and the way he went about his role despite all of the backlash, was that much more admirable. In many people's minds, Keaton is Batman. Of course, Tim Burton vs. Joel Schumacher is just as important a piece of the puzzle as Keaton vs. Kilmer or Clooney.

In 1990, Hanks had two flops in a row with Bonfire of the Vanities and Joe Versus Good Taste... while Keaton used his time in between Batman movies to do a comedy (The Dream Team), play a villian (Pacific Heights) and a dramatic turn as One Good Cop. While none of these movies were smash hits... they certainly were not the busts that Hanks' movies were during these years.

In 1992, Keaton reprised his role in the blockbuster Batman Returns... while Hanks used a solid role in A League of Their Own as the stepping stone to what would become the most important year of his career... 1993.

1993. This is where the turning point occurs... and to this day, I can't figure out why.


No wait... Wrong Philadelphia movie. Here we go:

My Life vs. Philadelphia. Nowadays people don't even think to mention these two movies in the same breath... but back in 1993, these movies were Michael Keaton and Tom Hanks attempts for the next level of stardom.

My Life is the better movie. It has aged better. It's a more universal story.. and in my opinion, Michael Keaton's performance blew Tom Hanks' Philadelphia performance out of the water. Ever since Robert DeNiro did it for Raging Bull, people have for some reason or other equated losing or gaining weight for a role as quality acting... This just isn't the case. While watching Philadelphia, I did not for one second buy Tom Hanks as a gay guy... and his whole "relationship" with Antonio Banderas came across as terribly forced. Seriously, go back and watch Philadelphia. It plays like an early 90's TV Movie of the Week. Gay man gets HIV. Gay man dies days later. Black man is a good guy and defends him. No wait... now that I think about it... it plays like a Lifetime Movie of the Week, where all straight white males ae evil.

Yet, here was the academy showering Hanks with all of the critical acclaim in the world... including the Best Actor award. Hanks took the ball and ran with it... lining up his next movie and following the formula for winning another Best Actor award... play a retard. Nothing says Best Actor like retard.

Do you know what the best part about playing a retard is??.. The ice cream!!.. Oh yeah, and the Academy Award.

I'll let you know something. I hate Forrest Gump. Hated it the first time I saw it. Talk about a movie that treats the American public like retards. I mean c'mon, when Lt. Dan was up top on the shrimping boat during the big storm... did he really have to challenge God out loud? Couldn't Zemeckis give viewers enough credit that they might be able to tell Lt. Dan was having his internal struggle against the Almighty right then and there, without him having to announce it out loud? Of course not... because the overall message of the movie is that there's a little bit of Forrest Gump in all of us. We're all retarded. Oh, and his precious Jenny was a whore. End of story.

Writer's Note: If I offended anybody with my constant use of the word "retard"... go back and re-read what I wrote... but insert "mentally handicapped" for everytime I used the word or a variation of the word "retard". I'm PC compatible, baby.

Following that fateful year of 1993, Keaton languished in such forgettable movies as The Paper and Speechless. He had a slight resurgence with Multiplicity in 1996 and he did a fine job in 1997's Jackie Brown... but let's face it, the man is no Tom Hanks. He's not up Spielberg's ass. He's not producing miniseries for HBO. I think 1998 says it all. Tom Hanks was busy starring in Saving Private Ryan... while Michael Keaton was:

Jack F'n Frost

It's a shame what has happened to Michael Keaton. For some reason, I think if he had the same success in the late 90's that Tom Hanks had... he wouldn't have been so full of himself, as to feel that he was such a great actor, that he could play opposite a volleyball.

Burn!! Burn!! Tapes of me as Uncle Ned, drinking vanilla extract on Family Ties!! Burn!!

Michael Keaton... we here at W-D know you're better than Hanks. Just don't make Jack Frost: 2.... okay?

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