What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this movie has brief strong language, a very scary plane crash, a dead body, and scenes of peril (some bloody). The deprivation and losses may be very upsetting to some kids and teens. Noland considers suicide, and speaks of attempting it, which some people may also find disturbing.
What's the story?
Called to duty on Christmas Eve, Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks), a precise time-watcher who works for Federal Express, promises his girlfriend (Helen Hunt) that he'll be home for New Year's. But his plane crashes in the Pacific, and everyone else is killed. Chuck washes up on a deserted island. Suddenly, all he has is time. He expects to be rescued, and sorts the FedEx packages that wash up. When he finally realizes no one's coming, he gets to work, using items from the packages as survival tools. A volleyball, stained with his own blood, becomes a companion. But he leaves one package unopened as a symbol of his identity – the man who gets the packages delivered. Four years later, the side of a cabin bathroom washes ashore, and Noland has what he needs to create a sail. He knows the tides and the seasons well and plans an escape, knowing he'd rather die out on the ocean than stay on the island. What finally makes it possible for him to leave isn't what he relied on in his old life, but the hope he has learned on the island. Still, it is his sense of the press of time that it spurs him to action.
Is it any good?
Cast Away is a moving exploration of what happens when everything we hold on to is taken away from us. There may be crystal waters and azure skies, but this is no Blue Lagoon, and he's no Brooke Shields. There is no music, and almost no dialogue. It is brutal and painful. For 45 minutes, we are alone on the island with Noland. He shreds his leg on coral and has to extract an abscessed tooth. Noland is an engaging character, and Hanks is undeniably one of the world's most engaging actors. But it is more impressive than involving and begins to seem more of an acting exercise than a saga about the triumph of the human spirit or the importance of love and family.
There are some moving and beautiful moments on the raft, especially the glimpse of a whale's eye peeking just above the water. But once he gets home, the movie falters. We know, though, that the world he left now seems strange to him and that it will take a long while for him to reorient himself and decide where he will go next. He has mastered the skill of spearing a fish and making a raft, but he has to learn a whole new set of survival skills back at home.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about what is left when we strip away the conventions and conveniences of our society. How do we decide what our priorities are, and what our values are?
Compare this movie to other desert island sagas, from Lord of the Flies to The Admirable Crichton.