What Would Hooch Do?

A great article in the Sunday Times about Tom Hanks’ production company reminds me of how much I admire his take on creating creative work. The guy has a great approach toward the business of art, and, I suppose, the art of business. And it all comes down to Turner and Hooch. Really. Really. Here’s what Tom Hanks has said about the importance of this particular movie to the success of his career.

From a five-year-old Esquire article: “It was a huge hit,” says Hanks, who toiled arduously to make it smarter than the studio cared for it to be. “We just worked ourselves into the grave, and, in the end, I thought, Did I really work this hard and invest all of this care for a move called Turner & Hooch? And the fact is, you do. It became this big deal for me. But, you know, you only learn from bitter, bitter compromise.”

And then just this summer, in Esquire, once again: “You know, I thanked Hooch at the Academy Awards. Actually, there were three dogs playing Hooch….Hooch taught me a lot, mostly about how free-flowing a movie can be. It doesn’t have to be: the phone will ring, and you’ll pick it up with your right hand and say, Blah, blah, blah.

“If I had to give Hooch a bath, I didn’t know what he was going to do when I tried to put him in the tub. And nobody could tell me, because who knows what Hooch will do? You can go in literally without a script—all you need is a scenario—because you weren’t acting; you were reacting off Hooch.

"Turner & Hooch freed me up quite a bit. And you can see it on the beach when the bombs go off in Saving Private Ryan. You’d be surprised at how often I can trace work I did in other films back to Hooch.”

Personally, I’m partial to the film because of a strange sense of taste and a love of sloppy dogs. But I think most people would find the movie more charming than a formulaic “messy-dog-warms-heart-of-uptight-cop” buddy flick should be. And it has to do with the way in which Hanks executes. Again, really. It’s a good lesson in life, especially for most startups. Get off the script and focus more on the scenario, and if you want to make it great, when things get tough, ask yourself:

What would Hooch do?

Posted by tom at August 2, 2006 03:19 PM
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