An untimely match made in heaven.
The passing of Nora Ephron in 2012 from leukemia shocked Hollywood. The author and screenwriter was known for her prolific work as a screenwriter, author, director and producer, having been associated with such pop culture titles as Julie & Julia, You’ve Got Mail and Sleepless in Seattle. Tom Hanks appeared in the latter and now tackles the role of real life tabloid columnist Mike McAlary in Ephron’s Lucky Guy, which opened on Broadway this week. It is Hanks’ first appearance on Broadway although his early career began in the theater, including a three-year stint at the Great Lakes Theater Festival. While Ephron didn’t live to see opening night, she has surely heard the enthusiastic applause from above. Hanks is one lucky guy, indeed.
Here’s what the critics have to say…
“If love were really all you need, Nora Ephron’s “Lucky Guy” would be the best show of the season, hands down. This fast-moving ink- and tear-stained portrait of the tabloid columnist Mike McAlary opened Monday night at the Broadhurst Theater, floating on a fathoms-deep reservoir of affection and good will, the likes of which back-stabbing Broadway seldom sees.
Unlike some of the movies Ephron wrote and directed, and many of her peerlessly sharp essays, “Lucky Guy” often feels only newsprint deep. But as a love song to a fast-disappearing, two-fisted brand of journalism — a field in which she began her long and varied career — it has the heart and energy of the perpetually engaged, insatiably curious observer that Ephron never ceased to be.” The New York Times
“With a winning ensemble performance by Tom Hanks in his Broadway debut, [Lucky Guy] magnificently conjures this lost era when ink-stained wretches ruled the world. Cup an ear and you might still be able to hear an editor shouting lines Ephron probably raided from her days as a New York Post reporter: ‘Where’s my nun-rape? Who’s got the subway slasher? I need the red meat. More red meat.’
Ephron and Hanks, whose past collaborations you may have heard a little something about, seem to be on the same page with McAlary’s character. Hanks’ disciplined performance lends just enough sympathy — the humanity that occasionally moistens McAlary’s eyes could never be confused with saintliness. And when the writing gets a touch mawkish, as with McAlary’s speech to his colleagues after learning of his Pulitzer win, Hanks wisely underplays the moment. His acting is at its most moving when he’s not speaking at all, just wandering silently amid all of McAlary’s second thoughts.” Los Angeles Times
“What’s most moving about Lucky Guy is that it offers, in the character of McAlary, exactly that tentative redemption: It’s a story of naïveté undone by experience and then brought halfway back. If that’s sentimental and self-regarding — the play has one or two sticky moments — well, the sentimentality and self-regard of the metropolitan scribbling class were also part of Ephron’s brief. Cities no less than hacks can be redeemed; journalists in particular have the chance to tell a new story, about us and about themselves, every day. And that chance may be life-or-death — because of course Lucky Guy is unavoidably a story about mortality as well, about dying young at whatever age. Perhaps as she worked on her final revisions of the play despite the encroachments of leukemia, Ephron felt like McAlary, who bolted a chemo treatment to race to his first interview with Louima. The trick was to keep writing. In that sense the play’s title, ironically enough, is not ironic, or not only ironic.” Vulture.com