FINCH – Review by Susan Granger

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Family comes in many forms. In this dystopian world, it’s a man, his beloved dog and the robot he builds to care for his dog after he dies.

Afflicted with radiation poisoning, robotics engineer Finch Weinberg (Tom Hanks) is one of the few survivors of a cataclysmic solar flare that destroyed the ozone layer, creating a toxic wasteland where the Earth’s temperature hovers around 150 degrees.

Wearing a high-tech hazmat suit that monitors exterior conditions, Finch periodically leaves the subterranean laboratory of the company in St. Louis where he once worked. Accompanied by a modified lunar rover named Dewey, he forages for food for himself and his Irish terrier named Goodyear.

During the past decade, Finch has created a robot, specifically designed to watch over Goodyear when he’s gone. Programmed with encyclopedic knowledge that includes a manual for the care and training of canines, the android’s midsection is even embedded with an opener for canned dog food.

When a deadly 40-day superstorm is forecast, Finch loads Goodyear, Dewey and the robot into a solar-powered 1984 Fleetwood RV and heads west – toward San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge. That’s when the plot becomes a perilous ‘road trip,’ as they encounter various, sometimes harrowing trials and tribulations along the way.

A unique Everyman, Tom Hanks spent Cast Away (2000) talking to a volleyball named Wilson. Here, when not singing American Pie to himself, he teaches the constantly curious robot who names himself Jeff (Caleb Landry Jones) as much as he can about responsibility, love, friendship and being human.

Poignantly scripted by Craig Luck and Ivor Powell, it’s delicately directed by Miguel Sapochnik (Game of Thrones), working with Belgian cinematographer Jo Willems and motion-capture wizards, who make seamless magic.

FYI: Originally, Jeff was supposed to come into contact with humans who were not what his creator, Finch, had predicted. Problem was: the film rang too long. So those sequences were left on the cutting-room floor.

On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, Finch is a sweetly sentimental 7, streaming on Apple TV+.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.