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reviewed by Lynn Barker

If you wanted to visit "Survivor Island" without the obnoxious Rich Hatch or the rest of the gang, this is your chance! In CASTAWAY, Tom Hanks shows us that "Surviving is easy. It's living that's difficult".

Tom plays CHUCK NOLAND, a Federal Express systems engineer whose job it is to travel all over the globe making sure that everyone's packages get delivered on time. In fact, taskmaster Chuck lives by the clock often having to cut short visits with the love of his life KELLY played by Helen Hunt in order to rush off to Alaska or Russia to whip the Fed Ex workers there into shape.

Chuck and Kelly have plans to marry when he returns from his latest trip. Of course, the big cargo plane crashes somewhere in the vast Pacific and Chuck is the only survivor landing on a very remote and tiny island. Chuck, whose everyday job is problem solving, does okay finding water, food and shelter but he finds emotional survival to be much harder. After four years of lonely existence (his only "friend" is a volleyball named "Wilson" on which he's painted a face in his own blood) Chuck uses debris washed up on the beach as a sail, builds a raft and makes a final attempt at escape.

The life-altering journey the Fed-Ex man takes is really emotional as he faces final challenges that would break a weak man's heart. But, after his long ordeal, it's the strength of the human spirit that brings Chuck through.

CASTAWAY is a little long and you would think that watching one guy try to survive on a tiny island would be boring but Tom Hanks pulls us into his isolated world with little survival tactics that are alternately funny, sad and creative. We root for this lost soul to keep his health and sanity. This film makes us all ask "What would I do." "Would I be clever enough to survive?"

The plane crash action is very realistic and exciting as are several attempts "Chuck" makes to escape. Be warned that this film is also a two or three Kleenex weeper but does offer hope. It also teaches an important lesson: Make time for the things that matter in life, especially family and friends. Chuck had to learn the lesson the hard way; on an island where all he had was time. This film might be too intense for younger kids who tend to get restless when action isn't non-stop, if you are age 12 and up you should see it if for no other reason than to make you get off your Razor scooter for a second, hug your mom and smell the flowers.

Rated PG-13

Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
Screenplay by: William Broyles, Jr.
Starring: Tom Hanks as Chuck Noland
Helen Hunt as Kelly Frears
Nick Searcy as Stan
Chris Noth as Jerry Lovett

Official Website: www.castawaymovie.com

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