You have to like a movie star who is honest about himself and his career. Tom Hanks will defend his work from criticism, as well he should, but he’ll also admit when something was, in his words, a bunch of “hooey.”

Take his trilogy of movies based on Dan Brown’s historical thriller novels about the adventures of a symbologist who solves mysteries surrounding ancient conspiracies. They started with 2006’s The Da Vinci Code, and continued through 2009’s Angels & Demons, and finally 2016’s Inferno. 

The first movie, which was based on Brown’s biggest best-seller, was a huge blockbuster, grossing well over $750 million worldwide. Each sequel performed more poorly than the previous film. All three were very unpopular with critics. And Hanks, to his credit, doesn’t pretend otherwise.

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For proof, read his very interesting and far-ranging interview in The New York Times Magazine. When the topic of cynicism in Hanks’ work comes up, the Times’ interviewer calls making all those Dan Brown movies “a little cynical.” To which Hanks replied:

God, that was a commercial enterprise. Yeah, those Robert Langdon sequels are hooey. The Da Vinci Code was hooey. I mean, Dan Brown, God bless him, says, Here is a sculpture in a place in Paris! No, it’s way over there. See how a cross is formed on a map? Well, it’s sort of a cross. Those are delightful scavenger hunts that are about as accurate to history as the James Bond movies are to espionage. But they’re as cynical as a crossword puzzle. All we were doing is promising a diversion. There’s nothing wrong with good commerce, provided it is good commerce. By the time we made the third one, we proved that it wasn’t such good commerce.

He’s not necessarily saying the movies are cynical, or at least that the ideas are cynical, just that they are essentially nonsense from a historical perspective. (Inferno might be nonsense from more than that perspective, frankly.)

Hanks’ next project, the biopic Elvis, premieres in theaters on June 24. Hanks plays Elvis’ famous manager, Col. Tom Parker. Let us hope it is good commerce, not hooey.

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