Style Snapshot: Tom Wheeler

“Um, who is Tom Wheeler?” you ask. A very valid question, since he’s certainly not one of the better known cinematic figures – very far from it, in fact!! He’s the dad (played quite endearingly by Ed Harris) in Milk Money (1994).

Remember Milk Money, with Melanie Griffith? Okay, maybe not. But I went to see it in the theatre when it first came out, so despite its manifold flaws (not even sure where to begin here… implausible plot line? totally non-PC content? unnecessary pyrotechnics?), it still carries a certain nostalgia factor for me.

As those of you who follow this blog will know by now, I’m a great believer that little costume gems can be found anywhere, and that costume is often one of the keys to character….

So here I present Tom Wheeler: single dad, widower, science teacher, optimist, and committed environmentalist. Maybe it’s Ed Harris’ winning dimpled smile and ingenuous blue-eyed gaze, but even in this “B-movie” of rom-coms he manages to make Frank’s dad a fairly believable and genuinely likeable figure. The character’s mission to teach his students about the importance of the natural world never quite descends into farce; I myself have known teachers with that level of devotion to their subject (one math teacher springs to mind, who declared with full sincerity that math workshops “kept him awake at night” because he found them so fascinating!).

Costume-wise, Mr. Wheeler’s persona of quirky dad + professional teacher + avid outdoorsman is evoked by a rather adorable combination of plaid shirts, colourful ties, utility vests, corduroy jackets, and general mismatch:

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So you see? Even in a relatively forgotten ’90s movie that garners a mere one star on Rotten Tomatoes (albeit two and a half on imdb!), one can still find a charming costume moment or two. 🙂

~ costume design:  Theoni V. Aldredge ~

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