Tom Hanks plays a federal delivery employee who survives a plane crash only to become a castaway on a remote island. Alone, he must find a way to stay alive until help can find him but as a city dweller, he has a hard time adjusting to living in the wilderness.
The hero’s attempts to make a fire and find food are often funny but at the same time, heartbreaking because the viewer knows how badly he needs these things. Debris from the wreck has washed up and among other things, he finds an unwrapped soccer ball and a package that was supposed to be delivered to someone on the other side of the United States. As he works to make himself a shelter and fire, the Castaway begins to bond with these items, as they are links to his past and for him, sanity. He talks to the ball like it is a real person and when he throws it down the cliffside in anger, he quickly fetches it, sobbing apologies.
The Castaway is alone for a long time, years where he becomes a true island native, and he finally realizes if he wants to return to civilization, he will have to make it happen himself. He painstakingly builds a raft from driftwood and sets out on the ocean with his ball and his package. After a terrifying journey, where he comes face to face with different, dangerous forms of mother nature, he is finally spotted by an ocean liner and taken to safety.
Once there, he is welcomed but realizes he still longs for the island where he learned to survive. There are no demands there, no stress, no wife that is now married to someone else. It is painful to watch him try to readjust to society and when he finally stops, the audience is relieved. The movie ends with him heading cross country, intent on delivering the package he bonded with on the island and upon meeting it’s owner, a lovely woman, the viewer immediately senses he will soon fall for her and fin some measure of happiness.
Sadly, this is not one of Tom Hanks best films. It has moments where you will laugh and maybe even shed a tear but it is also drawn out for effect in ways that make it hard to watch all the way through. Of five stars, the Castaway gets only two and one of those is just for having Tom Hanks in it.