Tom Hanks: 5 underrated movies to watch to get ready for Greyhound

Who doesn't love Tom Hanks? The Oscar-winning actor and valiant COVID-19 survivor is back with stirring World War II drama Greyhound, which is now streaming on Apple TV+.

Hanks writes and stars in this fact-based story, playing an American naval commander who must oversee a convoy traversing the treacherous Atlantic ocean. En route, they are attacked by Nazi U-boats, setting in motion a riveting battle for survival.

The film is adapted from C.S. Forester's book The Good Shepherd, and stays true to the familiar Tom Hanks image of the sturdy, decent everyman. However, what about those Hanks movies that deserve more attention than they get? Before you embark on the Greyhound voyage, be sure to check out the following gems.


1. The 'burbs (1989)

Joe Dante's mischievous story of suburban chaos builds on the themes of his hit Gremlins. An array of misfit suburbanites, including Hanks' becalmed husband, find themselves morbidly fascinated with new arrivals on their street, named the Klopeks. The fact they live in an Addams Family-style house and emit weird noises from the property late into the night should act as an alert that something weird is going on. That, and the amusing pipe organ/barking dog effects on Jerry Goldsmith's memorable score make it obvious.

Hanks is a riot as the straightlaced all-American everyman whose psyche steadily unravels via investigation of the Klopeks. The actor's final meltdown is one of his funniest, brought on in part by the stresses of dealing with an assortment of oddballs, including Bruce Dern's militaristic old codger. Watch out, too, for a role for the late Carrie Fisher as Hanks' wife.

2. A League of Their Own (1992)

"There's no crying in baseball!" How often do we get to see Tom Hanks playing a complete asshole? There aren't many examples, but A League of Their Own proves he can do obnoxiousness with the best of them. Hanks reunites with Big director Penny Marshall for this inspiring and funny story of a 1950s women's baseball league; in fact, he graciously plays second-fiddle to a cast that's led by Geena Davis and Madonna.

Hanks plays the alcoholic coach who is brought in to gee up the team. From his introductory peeing sequence, which goes on forever Austin Powers-stylie, to the infamously harsh "no crying in baseball" scene, it's a sign of Hanks enthusiastically throwing off his cuddly image. Of course, he mellows somewhat in the end, but only somewhat. Heck, in one scene, he even throws a baseball glove at a young kid, hitting him square in the face. Woody would be appalled.

3. That Thing You Do! (1996)

Hanks made his directorial debut with this affectionate look at 1960s pop music. That Thing You Do! relays the story of The One-ders (pronounced 'wonders'), a male group who soar on the wings of inspiration before crashing back to Earth after their one hit. Hanks also doubles up as manager Amos White, who attempts to guide The One-ders through the perils of fame.

Hanks' attention to detail in the music really sells the film's authenticity. Title track 'That Thing You Do' transforms from a dreamboat, cheesy pop single into a rocking, uptempo number throughout the course of the movie, hastening the group's rush towards success. The track was eventually released on its own terms, garnering Golden Globe and Oscar nominations in the process.

4. The Terminal (2004)

Steven Spielberg's fable of one man stranded in an airport terminal is admittedly mushy and schmaltzy. But it's also got a lot of charm, and pretty much all of that is down to Hanks, playing man-of-no-fixed nation Viktor Navorski. Thick of accent and initially possessing no English whatsoever, Navorksi is stranded in a New York terminal when civil war breaks out in his home country of Krakozhia. 

It's a shame that the movie has to ultimately trade the intriguing topical bureaucracy for a maudlin romance involving Catherine Zeta-Jones's airline attendant. Nevertheless, The Terminal, which was inspired by true events, demonstrates Hanks' inspired facility for physical comedy. The scene where he extracts loose change from baggage trolleys in exchange for a basic meal is a memorable one.

5. Cloud Atlas (2012)

We get multiple Hankses for the price of one in this sprawling, multi-generational epic from Tom Tykwer and the Wachowskis. Cloud Atlas is adapted from David Mitchell's fearsomely complex and layered novel, a story about how messages of humanity and compassion can resonate across the spectrum, from the 20th century into a post-apocalyptic, nightmarish Hawaii.

The film is an admirable, if flawed, attempt to adapt an impossible novel, which makes the odd, Monty Python-esque decision to cast the same actors as multiple characters. This involves men playing women and vice versa, with the cast also crossing racial boundaries. The idea is that we're all one conjoined soul, an overblown notion, but an intriguing one. And it does mean we get to see Hanks range from a stoic 1970s scientist to a dodgily accented Irish gangster, who lobs a critic of a balcony to his death.


Greyhound is now available to stream on Apple TV+. Let us know @Cineworld what your favourite Tom Hanks movie roles are.