Matthew Lickona noon, July 29
The Accidental Tourist
Single-handedly, William Hurt damn near ruins the movie. Always a strange, always a mannered, always a tormented actor, he would appear here to be making a concerted effort to find out how close he can get to being the World's Worst Actor without sacrificing the good opinion of his fans and the critics. Of course the role itself affords him a certain length of rope for strangeness, manneredness, tormentedness: he's a travel writer dedicated to the gods of smoothness and comfort, a fastidious seeker in foreign lands of that which is most like home, except that at his untranquil home he has lately suffered the death of his only son and the departure of his wife. With Hurt, however, withdrawal nudges up to clinical catatonia, and eccentricity lapses into lunacy. Where he ought, in other words, to arouse concern and sympathy, he arouses exasperation instead. Fortunately Hurt is not the whole movie. There is also Geena Davis, more than an equal counterweight, as its most unlikely romantic heroine -- a teacher of Dog Obedience and an aggressively available divorcée, undiscourageably chipper and chattery, so garish on the surface as to blind us at first to her depths. The gradual revealing of this character, starting with her not too promising miniskirts and press-on fingernails, and continuing on to her quite unattractive canine-communication techniques, and to her truly unsettling neighborhood and sickly son, restores some real meaning, some most unmovie-ish meaning, to the concept of Getting To Know Someone. She is, like anyone genuinely gotten to know, a singular creation. And Davis, no longer just filling the void left by Paula Prentiss, but striking out into an adjacent and uncharted void as well, is very much up to the job, every measured step of it. With Kathleen Turner; directed by Lawrence Kasdan. 1988.