RATED-(PG) 121-MIN-1988


                                                                         "While armchair travelers dream of going places,
                                                         traveling armchairs dream of staying put."


One fall day, with a cool breeze blowing outside, I was flipping through cable channels, and saw a movie on that I had heard about, but had never gotten around to see called: (The Accidental Tourist). I plopped myself down with a hot cup of coffee, and watched this film.I have since seen this movie "truly" countless times, and Anne Tyler's book, which Lawrence Kasdan adapted, is now one of my favorites. I will admit, that I do not think this film is for everybody. My guess is, that you will know fairly short into it if it is your cup of coffee, but if you stay with this and give it a chance, you will be treated to what I think is the best film from 1988.It is equally painfully sad and funny. I must also confess to being a huge fan of Kasdan's work as a screenwriter and filmmaker. If he makes a movie, I will certainly see it.

Macon Leary is a writer of travel guides for businessman who hate to travel. Macon also hates to travel, and his guides help business people who do this, prepare and pack, with the intention of feeling like they have never left the comfort of their home while on their trips. He wants to minimize the discomfort of the uncertainty of travel with it's many disruptions. Macon hates disruptions. Sadly, the greatest disruption in ones life a person can imagine is has indeed happened.

Macon and his wife last year, lost their son who was murdered waiting for food, at a burger joint while away at summer camp. The act was completely random and as soon as Macon goes to identify his son's body, he shuts down emotionally; like a switch. Because of this tragedy, Macon (William Hurt) and his wife Sarah's (Kathleen Turner) marriage begins to fail. They can't seem to get out of their depression, and they certainly can't help each other; so the beginning of this film, is their breakup. Sounds fun...huh?

After Sarah leaves the house and moves into an apartment downtown, Macon’s only companion is Edward, his son: Ethan's dog. Edward also seems to be having a hard time of it, as his behavior has become more aggressive. It is suggested that he get rid of the dog, but he can't. It is his one link to the memory of his son that is still tangible. Macon becomes a bit of a slug; lying around watching QVC and basically just existing. An accident on the basement stairs leaves his leg broken, and he has to take up residence again in his childhood home, where his two brothers Porter (David Ogden Stiers), Charles (Ed Begley Jr.) and sister Rose (Amy Wright) live. This house is a frigging hoot of odd behavior and silly rituals. The scene where Macon's publisher, Julian (Bill Pullman) comes to check on the new Accidental Tourist manuscript at the Leary‘s home, and witnesses the family’s issues with answering the phone is a riot. These are all damaged people, who have sheltered themselves back in their childhood abode where they feel safe. They feel there will be no more surprises.

Before he heads off to Europe, Macon has to board Edward at a kennel, and there he meets: Muriel Pritchett (Geena Davis), a flighty woman who is the polar opposite of Macon. She takes a shine to Macon right off the bat. She sees right through him and knows that this man is damaged just like her. Hurt and Davis are great in these early scenes, particularly Hurt, who almost looks afraid of Muriel. He has no clue on how to handle a woman like this. Muriel has a young son, Alexander ( Robert Hy Gorman) who is very sickly and meek, and they live in a bad neighborhood in Baltimore. When Edward goes and bites Macon, he hires Muriel to train Edward. That’s really where the heart of this movie begins; seeing if the strange and goofy Muriel, can pry Macon out of his shell and start to feel something... anything again. In the book, Muriel is a bit more aggressive at times; particularly with the dog and Kasdan’s script, refines it well I think.

The Master: John William’s somber and relaxing score, is the absolutely perfect compliment for Kasdan’s calm and offbeat tone. A very effective narration by Hurt, quoting tips from his travel guides, give added meaning to the story unfolding. Kasdan’s cast is all top notch. Davis won the best supporting actress award for this and you will, like Macon, equally love her and be aggravated by the character she plays here. She is a woman who knows no boundaries, who is dealing with someone who has nothing but them, to deal with his life. When confessions are finally made by several characters in the movie, they are heartbreaking and critical for them to move forward. How these two come together, and affect the ones around them to some extent, ultimately fills this film with hope. I cannot stress enough what a wonderful piece of filmmaking this is and I strongly recommend you see this movie gem.

watch the trailer: