The Accidental Tourist (1988) Poster

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An Underrated Gem
Ouarda2 July 2003
This is a faithful adaption of a brilliant novel. I have seen this movie a dozen times and it gets better with each viewing. It is subtle, yes, and that probably means it is not for everyone. Subtle, however, is not synonymous with boring, as unfortunately many people accustomed to a non-stop barrage of sense-dulling special effects and violence have come to believe. This film is as far from boring as it gets.

What I walked away from this story with is a reaffirmation of a force bigger than ourselves that takes our lives in a new direction -- one that we often consciously choose to reject. Macon Leary, as superbly played by William Hurt, has been sleepwalking through life for years. His profession says it all: he writes books for business travelers who have to visit exotic places but want to feel as if they never left home. Thus, the title, "The Accidental Tourist".

He is separated from his beloved wife, Sarah, played very well by Kathleen Turner. She could no longer live in with the waking death their life had become since the senseless murder of their young son years before. But he still wants nothing more than for her to return and resume that life. Even after a quirky dog-trainer played by Geena Davis (in her well-deserved Oscar-winning performance) enters his life and his heart he believes his future can only be with Sarah.

I don't want to give away the entire story, but I will say that the entire supporting cast, Macon's family (Ed Begley, Jr., Amy Wright, David Ogden Stiers) his editor (Bill Pullman), and a scene-stealing Welsh Corgi contribute richly and completely to the overall power of this story.

Some of the best dialogue I've ever heard on relationships, why they work, and why what we want so dearly to work just doesn't work anymore, is in this film. "Don't be lulled by a false sense of security". This powerful line, is what this film is all about, and it is placed perfectly, as all the memorable lines are. Give it a chance and an open mind because this film is the real deal. In my estimation, "The Accidental Tourist" is American cinema at it's best.
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Superb Movie with lots of food for thought.
Greensleeves20 May 2003
This is a wonderful film by Lawrence Kasdan about a man who withdraws from his relationships with other people (and the world) after a terrible family tragedy. William Hurt plays the character of 'Macon', a man who writes books for people who don't want to travel and has become as grey and dull as his suit. His wife Sarah (the vibrant Kathleen Turner) separates from him and after an accident he goes to live with his family who live a life organised by his sister, Rose (Amy Wright) and settles into a dull routine. Even his dog seems to be turning against him, then he meets Muriel (Geena Davis) when boarding his dog and she not only teaches the dog new tricks but also shows Macon that his ways can be changed too. William Hurt gives a truly marvellous performance as a man who has given up on life and has become almost catatonic. This is a film that gets better with each subsequent viewing, containing much food for thought especially for anyone that wishes for a 'safe' and 'planned' life. The wonderful dreamlike score is by John Williams and it was nominated for an Oscar amongst many nominations for this film. Thankfully this outstanding movie is now available on DVD and in the correct viewing format.
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Deeply Hurting
Miles Charrier23 January 2005
William Hurt gives one of the most intensely interior performances on record. He is indescribable moving. His emotional paralysis becomes the palpitating centre of this gorgeous Lawrence Kasdan film. I saw the film, when it first come out, on a big huge screen that allowed me the strangely unique privilege of entering a man's soul. In the surface, nothing. Less than nothing, William Hurt floats through his daily existence, surrounded by his quirky family, his wounded, distant ex wife but first and foremost, his impenetrable loneliness. The character never utters a word who could confirm that, and yet is there, ever present, if you look deep, deep into his eyes. The scene in which he almost lets himself go in Geena Davis's arms is as cathartic as anything I've ever seen in any modern American movie. A couple of days ago I saw it again on a normal TV screen and all of the above wasn't there. Still a gorgeous film, a funny, melancholic romantic comedy but what about the interior masterpiece of William Hurt's performance? Gone. Did I imagine the whole emotional ride? Possible but unlikely. I took my VHS copy to a friend's house with a phenomenal home entertainment centre and a massive screen. William Hurt's performance was back. His is a performance conceived and designed for the big screen. One hundred per cent cinematic. The TV screen is far too small to allow us into a man's soul. If you haven't seen it I urge you to see it but in a big screen, the biggest you can find. Now let me leave you with this little tip. Look into William Hurt's eyes when he is in the taxi in Paris and sees the boy, who reminds him of his own son, walking down the street. It is the best performances by an actor in one of my favourite film moments of all time.
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Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone
AZINDN20 July 2006
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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Cinematographic pearl.
THX 11385 February 2002
I agree to almost every word reviewer Takatomon wrote. One of this movie's greatest merits is that it deals with issues in life in a unpolished and natural way. It's easy to understand how this movie can be overlooked by the majority of viewers as this movie isn't for the majority of viewers. That is, the majority that's expecting to be entertained in the Hollywood style of film making. With that I mean those "strong" performances we all want to see from characters as Hoffman in "Rain Man" or Hanks in "Forrest Gump". Or vast visuals, filmed in the broadest scope, or action packed sequences. Not in "The Accidental Tourist". What you do get is William Hurt in what I think is one of his best roles as Macon Leary, writer of travel guides and Geena Davis in an exquisite role as the pet store owner. I've admired actors for the way they can portray mentally or socially challenged people (Rainman, Forrest Gump, Of mice and men, etc.). These parts tend to win the Oscars. But I'd rather give one to Hurt for his portrayal of Macon Leary because this character doesn't show obvious signs of any handicap. Actually Macon is very plain. What can be more difficult than acting out a role of a person who's personal qualities don't jump at you right away? "The Accidental Tourist" is a movie of high quality and should be given a fair chance.
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Never let yourself be lulled into a false sense of security, says Hurt
MarieGabrielle7 February 2006
as he writes his travel column. His column is a metaphor for being the "passive observer" who travels and critiques places, but never truly appreciates them...not until Geena Davis comes along, at any rate.

Hurt plays Macon Leary, a man who has existed, but not truly experienced life. Kathleen Turner is the estranged wife, due to the accidental death of their young son, a tragedy which causes Hurt to withdraw. As another reviewer mentioned, one should watch this excellent film several times, as there is much innuendo and insight into human behavior. Bill Pullman portrays Hurt's publisher, who is amused and intrigued by his eccentric family.

What a cast! Ed Begley Jr., Amy Wright, Hurt and David Ogden Stiers are all siblings (over age 40), who still live in their grandmother's house, complete with 1930's wallpaper, a pantry that is alphabetically organized by the sister, and a phone that is never answered because they "don't need it". Pullman is priceless as he visits Hurt for dinner, and falls in love with Rose (Amy Wright) for her old-fashioned persona.

Macon's dog is comic relief, but also the liaison with Geena Davis, an offbeat dog-trainer. She is quite good, and insinuates her way into Macon's ordered world. She is a single mother struggling, and Robert Hy Gorman is excellent as her young son, Alexander. Macon finds himself growing attached to Davis, her son, and her wayward life. He helps the son with schoolwork, and realizes he can still be open to new relationships. Even after all the tragedy.

Kathleen Turner attempts reconciliation,and offers Macon a stable ordered life of commonality. Davis offers instability, excitement and unpredictability. Which will he choose? This is not just a romantic drama, it is a serious character study about control, relationships, and difficult choices. It is one of the few films in which the difficulties of marriage are sensitively addressed, and the acting is superb.
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Pleasing concoction of light drama and lively romance with terrific leading performances.
Silverzero11 April 2003
Usually films about recovery after tragedy are very heavy-handed and sometimes slightly manipulative (Ordinary People etc.). But `The Accidental Tourist' manages to simultaneously be humane to this subject manner and take a more entertaining light approach to it. The script moves along at a slow pace, but it is consistent in its timing.

A drama without good acting is nothing, and that'' where `The Accidental Tourist' really capitalises. William Hurt was a great choice as the depressed downbeat man, recently divorced and still feeling the repercussions of his son's death. Kathleen Turner appears at the start of the movie only to hastily disappear and then make a mark halfway through. Even though she could have done with bit more screen-time, she is also brilliant as the equally depressed ex-wife.

But Geena Davis really takes advantage of each moment and lights up every scene she's in. She's perfectly cast as the kitschy, free-spirited dog trainer and was well deserving of her `Best Supporting Actress' Oscar win. There's some genuine support from the supporting players including Bill Pullman, Amy Wright and David Ogden Stiers. But they don't receive much limelight, nor do they demand it.

At the halfway mark the movie turns into more of a muchly familiar dilemma, of choosing between two women. Either moving on with your life or hanging onto memories while you still can. This has been used many times before but it is handled very well here.

With terrific performances, a compelling script and a good narrative, `The Accidental Tourist' hits a bullseye in all categories. It engages the audience in it gentle yet charming manner. 7.5/10.
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Hurt's performance a minimalist masterpiece
reignsong18 May 2001
Hurt expresses more with the slightest movement on his face than most actors do with pages of dialogue. An achingly beautiful portrait of a man trapped within himself, struggling at once to stay in and get out
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Incredibly moving
Parker Lewis16 September 2016
Warning: Spoilers
I read Anne Tyler's Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant but haven't read The Accidental Tourist. Still, this movie is a masterpiece, and William Hurt displays his top quality acting skills, especially the scene where he's called to identify his deceased son at the morgue. His facial expression says it all. That scene alone is worthy of three Oscars, and should be shown to all acting students. Why William Hurt didn't even get an Oscar nomination for this role is a mystery for the ages I guess (I say that with due respect to those nominated of course).

Another scene is where Macon attempts to explain to his siblings Rose, Porter and Charles, why he has kept the corgi. When we flashback to Macon's son having a wonderful time with corgi, nothing needs to be said, and Rose, Porter and Charles understand with much sympathy. It brings a tear to the eye.

I don't know if they makes movies like The Accidental Tourist anymore, as I guess Fast and the Furious and comic book heroes dominate the cinematic landscape (not that I'm being condescending of course). But this movie is timeless.
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Its no accident that many folks, including me, adore this great gem of a movie!
Amy Adler13 January 2016
Warning: Spoilers
In Baltimore, Macon (William Hurt) is a writer of travel books called, what else, The Accidental Tourist. His premise is that his advice will help people travel without being extremely homesick. Alas, Macon is hurting at this time, due to the untimely death of his only son. As his wife, Sarah (Kathleen Turner) has moved out, also, too grief stricken to continue their marriage, Macon is left with his son's upset dog as a companion. He occasionally visits the family home nearby, where his single sister, Rose, takes care of her two bachelor brothers. One morning, panic ensues. Macon is starting a journey to Europe and he is refused dog boarding at his usual place, as the canine bit someone last time. In a quandary, the writer spies a vet's office which also boards. Although he has no appointment, the unusual clerk, Muriel (Geena Davis) takes the dog. But, oh, when Macon returns, he finds that Muriel wants to "train" his dog and has set her sights on going out with Macon, too! The writer tries to discourage her in every way, but the lady prevails. Soon, Macon is constantly at her urban apartment, where she barely makes ends meet, as she is also a single mother to a son, Alexander. Muriel, however, is an eccentric woman, who makes Macon smile but who is the subject of ridicule to his brothers and ex-wife. In fact, Sarah makes another play for her former hubby. Meanwhile, Macon's editor, Julian (Bill Pullman) has been courting sister Rose. Will Macon abandon Muriel, who dearly loves him, for a return to his former wife? This lovely film is a life-affirming masterpiece. We love, we lose, we grieve, and we reconnect. Love also comes when we least expect it, at times. As the writer, Hurt is excellent, with a carefully nuanced performance. Turner, Pullman, and the others do great work, too. In her Oscar winning role, Davis gives the performance of a lifetime as the funny, offbeat Muriel. Then, too, the setting in Baltimore is most interesting, as well as a spell in beautiful Paris. Costuming is most noteworthy here as Muriel's outfits are sublimely ridiculous while everyone else is sedately, classically clad. Finally, the dazzling story, based on a book by Anne Tyler, and the wonderful direction by Kazdan combine for a unique film experience. Do NOT leave it to accident to view this great one. Make plans and soon.
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