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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 19.05%
Average: 4.76%
Pretty Bad: 14.29%
Total Crap: 9.52%

1 review, 15 user ratings

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Accidental Tourist, The
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by Politicsman

"A successful screen adaptation of contemporary American literary fiction"
5 stars

Sometimes a film is released that changes your mind about the way in which films are made and the way they are watched. For me, The Accidental Tourist was the film that converted me from a “movie fan” into a “film buff.”

That is not to say that I was amazed the first time I saw it. In fact, I rented it five times before I actually paid close attention to its detail. Adapted from the best-selling novel by Anne Tyler and directed by Lawrence Kasdan (The Big Chill, Grand Canyon), The Accidental Tourist is a wonderful and heart-wrenching look at American society. William Hurt, at his subtle best, plays Macon Leary, a travel writer who hops from his New England home to exotic locales in search of economic deals for his readers as well as tips to make their excursions inconvenience-free. He is a member of the most anal retentive family ever portrayed on film. His sister (Amy Irving) and two brothers (David Ogden Stiers and Ed Begley Jr.) live together in the house that they grew up in. They arrange food in alphabetical order and refuse to answer the telephone out of fear that this would disrupt their lives of splendid isolation. Macon reports to his publicist Julian (played by a young Bill Pullman) who gradually falls in love with his sister.

But these characters are but a sub-plot in Macon’s life. He is still an emotionally shattered man since the death of his son. Upon returning from a trip, his wife (Kathleen Turner) informs him of her unhappiness in the marriage and suggests a separation. Without so much as a whimper, Macon agrees to the new arrangement and moves back in with his siblings. When he is forced into another travel-writing assignment, Macon must deal with his dog of which his wife cannot take care. At the kennel, he meets the proprietor of the establishment, Muriel (Geena Davis), a woman who is the complete opposite of Macon. Their initial meeting yields nothing, except to showcase Macon’s awkwardness around people and Muriel’s easy-going charm.

When Macon returns to retrieve the canine, Muriel casually asks him out. At first he is taken aback by such forwardness but gradually her warmth and compassion rubs off on the colorless writer. They begin a relationship (a bed is shared) and Macon becomes a father figure to Muriel’s young son. For the first time, Macon is coming out of his shell and re-experiences the joys of life.

Another writing assignment takes Macon to Paris whereupon his wife surprises him to rekindle the marriage. Macon, with chronic back pain, must decide between the two women after Muriel follows him to Paris. I won't give away the ending, only that it was very human and very real.

No, the plot is not that complicated but its complete believability allows it to shine. Kasdan and Frank Galeti have done a masterful job re-working Tyler’s novel. This film is full of understated performances that expose the nuances and frailties of the human condition. Hurt is fantastic and the siblings, particularly Irving, are fascinating. Geena Davis won a deserved Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance and Anne Tyler deserves the credit for developing such endearing characters.

This film is a tribute to the successful screen adaptation of contemporary American literary fiction. Kudos to all involved.

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originally posted: 09/25/00 16:55:31
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User Comments

7/02/11 Stephen Hall A stunner, if it doesn't touch your heart you don't have one. And that last scene, aww! 5 stars
2/15/08 Bryce Stein I walked out on it, one of only 2 movies in my life that happened. 1 stars
3/12/07 mb Turned me away after 30 min 2 stars
11/04/04 Steve Michaud Quietly offbeat yet profoundly moving, with a subtle and nuanced performance by Hurt 4 stars
1/01/04 Richard Colavita subdued yet poweful; I loved it! 5 stars
4/24/03 sara fasja wonderful story and acting 5 stars
1/13/03 Jack Sommersby Overdeliberate yet admittedly affecting. Hurt is, again, outstanding. 4 stars
10/18/02 Charles Tatum Boring and pretentious; quiet everyone, William is ACTING 2 stars
7/27/02 I Can't Swim Hit & miss comedy/drama does provide good role for Oscar winner Davis 4 stars
6/24/02 R.W. Welch Davis is really the only interesting character; pacing is generally draggy. 3 stars
4/19/02 Rosa Zared Super-hokey fluff. And what's with cooking turkey at 140 degrees?????? 2 stars
12/30/01 Blue Highways Terrific film; nuanced performances throughout 5 stars
3/30/01 Monday Morning What worked in the book, didn't on film. 1 stars
10/29/00 Bo Denyet 5 stars
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  01-Dec-1988 (PG)
  DVD: 20-Jan-2004

  N/A (PG)

  02-Feb-1989 (M)

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