Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Movie Review: "The Hero" (2017)

Director: Brett Haley
Year: 2017
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 33 minutes

An aging actor who was just diagnosed with cancer tries to make amends with his daughter for not being there much of her life.
"You can't help who you like." (Image Source)
A movie about an aging actor with a golden voice and a penchant for acting in westerns? How could Sam Elliot ever get a feel for a character so far outside his comfort zone? Can you possibly imagine Sam Elliott ever playing a cowboy?
All kidding aside, director Brett Haley's "The Hero" does manage to capture what it's like to be an aging actor in Hollywood, struggling to find a purpose now that they have fallen out of favor with the public. As you may have guessed, the movie stars Sam Elliot as Lee Hayden, a once prominent actor who did a lot of westerns in the 70's and 80's, but is now stuck doing commercial voiceover work for BBQ sauce. Lee has just been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, which suddenly makes him reflect on his life and makes him want to make amends, mainly to his daughter, who he has alienated over the years. Meanwhile, Lee begins a fling with a comedian named Charlotte (Laura Prepon), who is a good 35 years or so younger than him, though what their relationship actually is neither is willing to define.
"Movies are other people's dreams." (Image Source)
When we sat down and watched "The Hero," we couldn't help but feel that the film shared a lot of similarities with the film Darren Aronofsky's "The Wrestler." Both films are about aging performers stuck doing lesser versions of what they use to do, both have characters that might die, and both have estranged daughters who they weren't there for in their younger days. This is a pretty by-the-numbers, formulaic story. It isn't terribly well paced, and much of the movie seems to drag on and on at times. Luckily, it isn't very lengthy. The one thing that helps elevate "The Hero" is Sam Elliott, who gives a tremendous performance. We would call it one of the best of his career. We wish we had seen some awards consideration for him last year because he's that good. We also liked Nick Offerman's performance as Lee's friend and pot dealer, Jeremy. Offerman adds a generous amount of comedy, as well as some much-needed levity to an otherwise reflective, introspective movie.
"I did one film that I'm proud of. That was 40 years ago. Since then, I wouldn't say I've been achieving." (Image Source)
As good as Sam Elliott's performance is, "The Hero" lacks the emotional punch we were looking for from such a weighty story (apart from one or two moments). Though it is decent overall, it doesn't really do much to rise above or separate itself from the many other movies just like it.

My Rating: 6/10
BigJ's Rating: 6/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.5/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 78%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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