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The Accidental Tourist (1988)

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An emotionally distant writer of travel guides must carry on with his life after his son is killed and his marriage crumbles.



(book), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Won 1 Oscar. Another 3 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Alexander (as Robert Gorman)
Seth Granger ...
Amanda Houck ...
Caroline Houck ...
London Nelson ...
Gregory Gouyer ...
Paris Boy
Morgue Detective #1 (as W.H. Brown)


After the death of his son, Macon Leary, a travel writer, seems to be sleep walking through life. Macon's wife, seems to be having trouble too, and thinks it would be best if the two would just split up. After the break up, Macon meets a strange outgoing woman, who seems to bring him back down to earth. After starting a relationship with the outgoing woman, Macon's wife seems to think that their marriage is still worth a try. Macon is then forced to deal many decisions Written by Justin Sharp <rainman88@earthlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Romance


PG | See all certifications »




Release Date:

6 January 1989 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Die Reisen des Mr. Leary  »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$97,578, 26 December 1988, Limited Release

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


The film was made and released about three years after its source novel of the same name by Anne Tyler had been first published in 1985. See more »


The shaving cream on Macon's face changes as he talks with Sarah. See more »


Julian: He got lost on Howard Street?
Charles Leary: It's a problem with this family - directions.
See more »


Referenced in Melrose Place: The Accidental Doctor (1997) See more »


Written by Frankie Adams and 'Wilbur Jones'
See more »

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User Reviews

Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone
20 July 2006 | by See all my reviews

The Accidental Tourist is a quiet and contemplative film that adults rarely have an opportunity to experience from an American perspective. Macon (William Hurt) is a Baltimore travel writer whose son was accidentally killed in a robbery. His wife Sarah (Kathleen Turner) leaves him when Macon withdraws to a somnambulist response, a favored routine to life that is Macon's family way. Macon's brothers (Ed Begley, Jr. and David Ogden-Stiers) are 40+ year old bachelors and living with their spinster sister, Rose in the family home. With the addition of the now separated Macon, the siblings are reduced to an eccentric routines of alphabetizing the pantry and discussions of who could be calling while the phone rings.

Into Macon's sedentary and uneventful pattern comes Muriel Pritcherd (Geena Davis), a dog trainer who takes hold of Edward, Macon's misbehaving Corgi, and inserts herself into their lives. A latent Annie Hall dresser whose mismatched clothing and late 50s car screams woman of a certain age with free spirit tendencies, Muriel gives new options to Macon through her unpredictable character and a small son, who takes immediately to him. Edward the dog even manages to behave and the little family becomes a new and invigorating experience for Macon, whose own relatives have long ago lost any sense of independence or initiative. With the unheard of occasion of the spinster sister's wedding to Macon's publisher, (Bill Pullman), Macon and Sarah are reunited and Muriel is dropped for the familiar situation of a convenient reconciliation. When Macon's work takes him to Paris, Muriel accidentally finds they are on the same plane and hotel. Although he is reluctant to interact with her, Muriel is storming the walls of resistance as before. Macon's situation is made more complicated with the appearance of his ex-wife, whose presence is both familiar and upsetting to a Macon-Muriel-Sarah menage.

How this trio resolves the situation is filled with wonderful and literate conversations between characters which ring true to the adult situation of marriage and changing lives, goals, and the unexpected. For an American film this kind of complex story telling is almost a lost art in today's car chase, adolescent fart humour, and situational absurdities. However, with long silences and occasional comic relief from the dog, the film is both contemplative and entertaining as it unfolds with bittersweet truisms.

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