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The Accidental Tourist

released 1988

written by Lawrence Kasden and Frank Galati, based on the book by Anne Tyler

directed by Lawrence Kasden

Cast: William Hurt, Kathleen Turner, Geena Davis, Amy Wright, David Ogden Stiers, Ed Begley, Jr, and of course..........

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His son has died tragically and his wife (Turner) leaves him,  so Macon Leary (Hurt) takes refuge both physically and emotionally  in his habitual, organized life. Macon’s job is writing travel guides for people who, like him, hate to travel.  A broken leg sends him back to live with his eccentric sister and brothers who exhibit the obsessive-compulsive behaviors of their childhood: they organize their food pantry in alphabetical order; they eat the same food; they play the same card game.  They agree to stop answering the phone so no one will bother him.  The misbehaviour of his dog forces Macon to seek the help of Muriel, (Davis) a charmingly disorganized dog trainer and single mom.  Macon’s publisher, Julian Hedges, (our man Bill) discovers his whereabouts and refuses to leave him alone.  Julian, who doesn't exactly understand Macon, begins a relationship with Macon's spinsterly sister, Rose.  Before our eyes, we see Rose bloom (okay, it's a terrible pun, but it is a fitting description--ed.)   with Julian's love and attention.  Macon, too, finds himself falling under the spell of the exuberant, but needy Muriel; most especially, it is Muriel's sickly young son who finds the crack in Macon's lonely, shattered heart.  And slowly, but surely, the disruptions in his orderly life brought by these two lead him to wonder whether he’s "not exactly the person" he thought he was.  He is, in fact, so much more.

Pullman’s tasseled leather loafers bouncing nervously on a tree branch (having been driven there by Macon's snarling little dog) are the first we see of him in this film. His hair is dyed a dark brown to play Julian. Though it is a small role, we are captivated by his Julian's expressive face.  His love for Rose also makes him a complete person.  Watch for the lovely, sweet scene between Bill and Hurt discussing how Julian can get Rose to move back in with him.   Bill’s performance as Julian is one of his best in a supporting part.

This is a rich film which depicts beautifully the paradox of comedy in the midst of tragedy, a bittersweet story of an introverted, grieving man who learns to love again after meeting an unconventional woman.    It is based on the critically acclaimed novel "The Accidental Tourist" by Anne Tyler. Tyler is a master teller of stories about ordinary people and the power of familial love.  Lawrence Kasden did an excellent job of adapting the story to the screen, especially by remaining true to Tyler's complex and quirky characters.

"The Accidental Tourist" won the 1988 New York Film Critics Award for Best Film.  Geena Davis's portrayal of the ditsy and lively Muriel won her the Academy Awardİ for Best Supporting Actress.  The Academy also nominated the film for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay (Lawrence Kasden) and Best Original Score (John Williams).  

Rated PG for a detailed and slowly, but lovingly told story.  No objectionable language or scenes.

comments by Mary Anne Cochrane-McIver and dlrs

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