Monday, August 15, 2011

"Punchline" 1988


This is the first movie my husband and I saw together. It was our second date. We had spent a few weeks talking on the phone before we even met. It amazed me that we never seemed to run out of things to talk about. Now, after 22 years of marriage we still haven’t. Our first date we spent several hours sitting in his Ford Escort hatchback talking. We had so much in common it was dizzying. At one point, he turned to me and asked, “Are you left handed?” And that was it. There was something special there.

So I said we should go to a movie and he let me pick. I chose “Punchline”. It had Tom Hanks, still very early in his career. He was known more for his goofy roles in “Splash” and “Bachelor Party”. This was his one of his first foray into the more serious stuff that would earn him Oscars. It also starred Sally Field, his future “Forrest Gump” momma.

I can remember going to a theater downtown that isn’t there anymore. He didn’t know anything about the movie.

I have a theory about the first movie that a couple sees together. I believe it sets the tone for the relationship. I knew this movie was serious, my husband thought he was in for a comedy, but it turned out to be good anyway. That pretty much sums us up.

I have presented this theory to other couples and it almost always fits. I know a divorced couple whose first movie was “Titanic”, not a good omen.

Sally Field is Lilah, an aspiring comedian and New Jersey housewife with three daughters. Her husband, played by a pre-Roseanne John Goodman, can‘t understand her ambition and wishes she would just stay home.

Tom Hanks is Steven Gold, a medical school drop who keeps forgetting to tell his family he dropped out. He keeps hoping he will hit it big and be able to say he won’t be a surgeon, but he will be a star instead.

There are a lot of great scenes in this movie.

One of my favorites is when Lilah has been out all day with Steven learning to be a better comedian and has to rush home to make dinner for her husband and some of his potential clients. She runs in the door with groceries and telling her daughters to get out of her way. Within minutes she has food on the table, the girls dressed and despite an unfortunate fish incident, seems ready to impress. With her husband at the table trying to impress the minister in charge of insuring ten churches all seems well. Then her youngest daughter innocently asks to tell a joke. A joke that is certainly not church friendly.

Tom Hanks and Sally Field have a great chemistry in the movie. They banter and flirt. She mothers him when he needs it. He pushes her to be true to herself.

He even does a “Singing in the Rain” dance for her.

This movie will always hold a special place in my heart because I saw it the first time with my future husband.

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