Friday, November 5, 2021

Tom Hanks stranded in a sci-fi desert

Sometimes movies are too idiosyncratic for the question I'm about to pose. It does, however, apply to Finch, the story of a robotics engineer (Tom Hanks) who lives alone in a post-apocalyptic world. Let’s revise that: Finch, the title character, isn't entirely alone. His companions include Goodyear, a dog he rescued, and a small robot named Dewey. So the question: Who precisely is this movie for? Finch knows he's dying from radiation poisoning. He must, therefore, create a robot to care for Goodyear once he's gone. He builds Jeff, a clunky-looking  robot that can learn to execute the requisite tasks. Finch, Jeff, Goodyear, and Dewey board an RV and head for San Francisco but never find a plausible and compelling groove for the story. Director Miguel Sapochnik treats Jeff as a source of juvenile comedy. He includes a bit of menace that may be too much for little ones. And he draws the movie's conclusion in maudlin strokes. To make matters worse, most sci-fi fans have been down this dystopian road many before -- and with better movies. Hanks can carry almost any movie but we're left wondering what brought such a gifted actor to a movie that feels  like a dim afterthought in the post-apocalyptic movie deluge.

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