What I’ve Been Watching: The Accidental Tourist (1988).
Who’s Responsible: Lawrence Kasdan (writer-director), Frank Galati (co-writer), William Hurt, Kathleen Turner, and Geena Davis (stars).
Why I Watched It: Kasdan, Hurt, and Davis.
Seen It Before? Once, long ago.
Likelihood of Seeing It Again (1-10): 7.
Likelihood the Guys Will Rib Me for Watching It (1-10): 5.
Totally Subjective BOF Rating (1-10): 6.
And? I’ve already lamented Geena Davis’s multiple screwings by ABC and her recent relative scarcity onscreen, so the next step was clearly to take another look at her Oscar-winning role in this adaptation of Anne Tyler’s novel. It represents Hurt’s fourth and, to date, final collaboration with Kasdan after Body Heat—also with Turner, who I’ve never liked—and BOF faves The Big Chill and I Love You to Death. As such, I was puzzled by why I didn’t remember liking it more, with three of my personal pantheon involved, but I think the billing that reduced La Davis to Best Supporting Actress gets to the heart of it…
Since I am one of the bigger fans of the married state, it did not endear Turner to me any further when Sarah Leary leaves her husband Macon (Hurt) at the outset, stating that his stunted emotions have become unendurable since the murder of their son a year earlier. Mind you, this is after Turner betrayed fellow adulterous killer Hurt in Body Heat, which so outraged me that I conceived a five-minute sequel, Ned Racine’s Revenge. She would be seen lounging on a beach, as at the end of the original, whereupon Hurt would appear and pop her in the head, but sadly, I was unable to obtain financing for this masterpiece.
Sarah deems Macon’s eponymous travel guides, with their flying-armchair logo (“While armchair travelers dream of going places, traveling armchairs dream of staying put”), the perfect metaphor, letting business travelers feel like they’ve never left home. Continuing this rather straightforward symbolism, the vehicle for Macon’s emotional rehabilitation is Edward, the Cardigan Welsh corgi he clings to because it was a favorite of their son’s. In desperate need of a place to board Edward while he’s on one of his business trips, Macon stumbles on an animal hospital run by free-spirited single mom Muriel Pritchett (Davis).
Macon is finally brought out of his shell by Muriel’s son, Alexander (Robert Gorman), who needs a father figure, and her delightful kookiness, although she is no kookier than Macon’s siblings. Rose (Amy Wright) looks after their woolly-headed fortysomething brothers, Porter (David Ogden Stiers) and Charles (Ed Begley, Jr.), in the ancestral home and is courted by Macon’s publisher, Julian (Bill Pullman). After Macon moves in with Muriel, Sarah tries to worm her way back into his life, and seems to be succeeding until he travels to Paris on business and Muriel surprises him by appearing on the same plane.
This is basically a love story between Macon and Muriel, with Sarah a fly (sorry, Geena) in the ointment, one who is mercifully absent for the entire middle of the picture, so why in the hell Turner outranks Davis in the credits, I have no idea. Muriel quite rightly takes Macon to task for dropping her like a hot potato when the on-again, off-again Mrs. Leary decides to rematerialize, and although everything comes out in the wash by the fade-out, I presume it was this frustration with the third act that tempered my enjoyment. That said, this is an engaging dramedy from a fine filmmaker, and is eminently worth checking out.