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Splash

Year: 1984
Director: Ron Howard
Writer: Brian Grazer/Bruce Jay Friedman
Cast: Tom Hanks, Daryl Hannah, John Candy, Eugene Levy

Tom Hanks wasn't yet an Oscar winner but he was one of cinema's most likeable comic everymen, the sort of role Henry Winkler played in Night Shift. He plays Alan, a fruit and vegetable supply business trying to live life when a strange woman enters his life, a gorgeous blonde mute he christens Madison who wants to do nothing but kiss and shag him.

It seems too good to be true, and little does Alan know, it is. Madison is a real live mermaid, and she has six days to spend on dry land with the man she's always loved.

With a bitter scientist (Levy) determined to expose the truth about Madison to save his ailing reputation and Alan's man-boy brother Freddie (Candy, in one of his best roles) along for the ride, Madison's secret won't stay that way for long.

When the truth emerges, Howard takes a refreshingly real-world approach. Instead of flouncy rainbows and romance, scientists snatch Madison away and put her in a tank to study her, the evolutionary oddity a mermaid would be in real life. Just as satisfyingly, it's then up to Alan to realise he loves her and help spring her back to freedom so they can be together.

It has the sweetness and heart of Cocoon as well as and later efforts from when Howard established himself as an A list director, but the laughs of a more teen comedy-style movie like Night Shift, and it was Howard's point of transition.

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