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1 item from 1996

Film review: 'Guys Like Us'

18 November 1996 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The advantages of using charismatic, identifiable performers are illustrated in this entertaining and endearing buddy picture about two disabled men who help each other overcome their fears while preparing to embark on a whitewater rafting race. Although ultimately a predictable exercise in feel-good emotions, "Guys Like Us" benefits enormously from the performances of stars Vincent D'Onofrio and Gregory Hines. The film was recently showcased at the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival.

D'Onofrio, who is truly headed for a major film career, plays Ole, a star football player who is cut down in his prime. A freak tackling accident leaves him totally blinded, and he goes from being the toast of Seattle to hurling furniture from his apartment in a drunken range, precipitated by watching his ex-girlfriend tout her tell-all book on television. (She doesn't hesitate to include a chapter on his impotency problems.) This incident lands him in jail, where he is visited by Lemley (Hines), a wheelchair-bound dental technician who proposes to Ole that they collaborate in a whitewater rafting race. The plan has to do with a (real-life) organization called SOAR, which helps physically challenged individuals participate in various outdoor and athletic events.

Ole is skeptical at first, but eventually agrees, and the two men embark on a road trip to Oregon. The predictable complications ensue, including an ill-fated gambling excursion and a comical sexual encounter between Ole and a casual pick-up. (Lemley is forced to wait in the hotel room bathroom.) Ultimately the pair wind up in Oregon, only to be told that they can't participate in the race. Setting off further down the river for a practice run so they can crash the race, they have a close encounter with a friendly pot-grower (Max Gail).

During the course of the film, the two characters, initially hostile, ultimately become bosom buddies, and Lemley helps Ole overcome the emotional blocks that have prevented him from getting on with his life. Although much of the taunting banter is formulaic, Bob Comfort's screenplay contains a generous amount of amusing situations and dialogue, and the characters are so likable that one can't help but be caught up in their struggle.

D'Onofrio, who is not afraid to play obnoxious, is wonderful as Ole, whose boorish behavior is offset by his charisma and his larger-than-life persona. Hines, in one of his best screen roles in recent years, gives a low-key but genuinely amusing performance, with enough slow burns to rival Jack Benny. Football great Joe Theismann has a cameo, and James Earl Jones shows up in a small role as a jocular sportscaster.


An East West Film Partners production

Director:Richard Labrie

Screenplay:Bob Comfort

Executive producers:Richard Hahn, Bob Comfort

Director of photography:Maximo Munzi

Editor:Neal Grieve

Music:Tim Truman



Bernard "Bern" Lemley:Gregory Hines

Tony "Ole" Olezniak:Vincent D'Onofrio

James Bing:James Earl Jones

Farmer John:Max Gail

Joe Theismann:Himself

Running time: 90 minutes

MPAA rating: R


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1 item from 1996

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