19 user 15 critic

Ithaca (2015)

PG | | Drama, War | 9 September 2016 (USA)
1:54 | Trailer

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With his older brother off to war, fourteen-year-old telegram messenger Homer Macauley comes of age in the summer of 1942.


Meg Ryan


Erik Jendresen, William Saroyan (novel)
2 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Alex Neustaedter ... Homer Macauley
Meg Ryan ... Mrs. Macauley
Sam Shepard ... Willie Grogan
Hamish Linklater ... Tom Spangler
Jack Quaid ... Marcus Macauley
Tom Hanks ... Matthew Macauley
Spencer Howell ... Ulysses Macauley
Christine Nelson ... Bess Macauley
Gabriel Basso ... Tobey George
Lois Robbins ... Mrs. Beaufrere
Lucia Scarano ... Mrs. Rosa Sandoval
Molly Gordon ... Mary Arena
Scott Shepherd ... Mr. Corbett
James McCool James McCool ... Lionel
Ethan Wasson Ethan Wasson ... Auggie


Fourteen-year-old Homer Macauley is determined to be the best and fastest bicycle telegraph messenger anyone has ever seen. His older brother has gone to war, leaving Homer to look after his widowed mother, his older sister and his 4-year-old brother, Ulysses. And so it is that as spring turns to summer, 1942, Homer Macauley delivers messages of love, hope, pain... and death... to the good people of Ithaca. And Homer Macauley will grapple with one message that will change him forever. Based on Pulitzer Prize-winning author William Saroyan's 1943 novel, The Human Comedy, ITHACA is a coming-of-age story about the exuberance of youth, the abruptness of change, the sweetness of life, the sting of death, and the sheer goodness that lives in each and every one of us. Written by Erik Jendresen

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


One message will change everything See more »


Drama | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for thematic elements, a war image, and smoking | See all certifications »


Official Sites:

Official site





Release Date:

9 September 2016 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Итака See more »

Filming Locations:

Virginia, USA See more »


Box Office


$5,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs




Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Loosely associated with The Human Comedy (1943), also based on William Saroyan's novel. See more »


When they are in the cinema watching the newsreel, there's a shot of a man carrying a wounded solider across a river. The commentary states "when this country was extending a helping hand..."

The shot actually of an Australian soldier helping a wounded Australian in the Kokoda campaign in New Guinea. The film is footage from Kokoda Front Line, by Damian Parer, who was an Australian combat camera man. See more »


Tom Spangler: Just try to believe that the best part of a good man stays. It stays forever.
See more »


Version of The Human Comedy (1943) See more »

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User Reviews

An honest, well produced motion picture with a story that fits the time.
21 April 2017 | by CliffUnruhSee all my reviews

I would caution the reader to not take too much stock in the less- than-stellar, Monday morning director, critical reviews of this film. Tom Hanks' position in the billing should be the very last, if even noted. His face time in this movie is probably less than 2 minutes total and, for all intents and purposes, Meg Ryan's character is minor. Any decent character actress could have played her role without any impact on the motion picture as a whole. This is not "Sleepless In Seattle" nor is it a spin-off of any other Meg Ryan or Tom Hanks movie. These two "box office draws" are in this motion picture because as producer (Hanks) and director (Ryan) they chose to be; perhaps for the purpose of giving this film initial gravitas or simply because they wanted to be participants in the telling of a good story and a good story this is.

This is a time-period piece conceived by William Saroyan in 1942 and published as the novel, "The Human Comedy" in 1943. Everything about this film is 1942 perhaps with the exception of the lack of recognizable, vintage 1940's music. This is a film depicting the morals and values of small town America at the beginning of the Second World War, not the values, morals, or expectations of those of us trapped so much in the present that we cannot recognize or even acknowledge the simple and far more innocent times portrayed in this film. Consequently, the gratuitous profanity so common in pictures today is refreshingly absent. This was a time when to be able to kiss a cute girl on her cheek was considered something very special to a young man heading off to war. It was a time when a little boy could get lost in town and the only real threat was that he might miss dinner. People did not lock their doors. A telegraph messenger, even though a stranger, was invited into one's home. If a person was involved in a nefarious or unseemly behavior they did their best to hide it. It was a time when a typical 14 year-old boy, like Homer Macauley (Alex Neustaedter), having experienced the Great Depression first hand, was already a responsible individual.

This was the world in which Homer rode his bicycle, delivering telegrams, picking up night letters, and doing everything he could to see that the Postal Telegraph Company could effectively compete with Western Union; all the while being the one remaining "man of the house" in the wake of his father's untimely death and his older brother's departure for service overseas. Ithaca and the nation were slowly adjusting to war as the patriotic zeal following Pearl Harbor gave way to the more sobering realities of life during wartime. The presence of a telegraph messenger at the front door was not yet perceived as a sign of bad news but those in the telegraph business, transmitting, decoding, and delivering the messages, were becoming keenly aware of the war's growing, painful impact on families. In this context, with the war's presence being increasingly felt and experienced, the small day-to-day aspects of community were the constants, giving the character of Homer's 4-year old brother, Ulysses (Spencer Howell), the unique ability to provide an endearing presence of those things that are ultimately important and reminding us that, even when things appear to be going so very badly, life is good and must go on.

Screenwriter Erik Jendresen says in his synopsis of the story line, "this is a coming-of-age story." In my view it is far more than that if, in watching the film, one will allow being transported to Ithaca, NY in 1942 and to embrace for 90 minutes or so, the values of the people living through this story at that time.

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