Some of the analysis of Larry Crowne‘s disappointing opening-weekend box-office performance reads like obituaries. “Are America and Tom Hanks Out of Step?” asked the Los Angeles Times. “Why Won’t Tom Hanks Just Stop Already?” whined Toronto’s Globe and Mail. Crowne grossed only $13.1 million over the three-day weekend, an unimpressive but hardly a surprising result. (His last film with Julia Roberts, 2007′s Charlie Wilson’s War, grossed only $9.7 million in its opening frame.)
Stars simply aren’t what they used to be — ask anyone except Will Smith — and Hanks, at 54, can’t compete with his own resume of success that includes two Oscars and 17 films that topped more than $100 million. Not everyone is Clint Eastwood. But for the first time, perhaps, there’s finally an opening for “The Next Tom Hanks.” For years, there have been whispers of such an actor, but evidence has proven as elusive as the Yeti. Just ask Tom Everett Scott and Topher Grace. Shia LaBeouf has long been mentioned as an heir apparent, though given his more action-packed resume of late, he now seems more inclined to become the 1990′s other big Tom: Cruise.
So who is poised to fill Hanks’ shoes as The Genial Everyman with comic credentials and dramatic chops? Last week, Horrible Bosses‘ Lindsay Sloane called her co-star Jason Sudeikis an “early career Tom Hanks,” and the Saturday Night Live star does have the handsome but not threatening good looks and quick wit that Hanks is famous for. Or course, Sudeikis would kill for a starring role in a movie that opens at $13.1 million — though Horrible Bosses seems destined to smash that figure. His co-star, Jason Bateman, is another guy who shares some of Hanks’ on-screen DNA, and next month’s The Change-Up, which also co-stars another Hanks-in-waiting, Ryan Reynolds, feels like the type of movie Hanks would’ve killed in during the late 1980s.
I’m perfectly fine with saying there’s never going to be another Tom Hanks. He’s a national treasure, and he still has a slate of interesting projects on the way, like Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and Cloud Atlas. But someone has to fill the void that once belonged to him, the reliable, likable thirtysomething guy-next-door whose name above the marquee means something. Does anyone have a prayer of filling those shoes?
Who do you see as the Next Tom Hanks?