THE HERO: taking ones own measure

Sam Elliott in THE HERO

Sam Elliott in THE HERO

The bittersweet dramedy The Hero has one thing going for it – Sam Elliott, he of the profoundly deep and sexy voice.  Elliot has a rascal’s sparkle in his eye and a smile that can make panties slide off by themselves.  He pulls off a mustache that would be ridiculed on any other man walking the earth.

In The Hero, Elliott plays Lee, a selfish screen actor of Elliott’s real age (73).  Lee has made “one film I’m proud of” – a Western from forty years ago titled “The Hero“.  Now, in a hilarious Sam-Elliott-winks-at-himself, Lee is relegated to doing commercial voice-overs, his buttery tones hawking a supermarket BBQ sauce.  He has left some relationship carnage in the wake of his career : an ex-wife (Elliott’s real-life wife Katharine Ross) and an estranged daughter (Krysten Ritter) in his wake.  And his best friend is his pot dealer (Nick Offerman).

Lee receives a very, very bad cancer diagnosis (even for cancer).   Contemplating – or avoiding contemplating – the end of his life, he is forced to take his own measure.  He knows that he’s “The Hero” on-screen but angry daughter knows well enough that he’s no hero off-screen, and so does he.

He finds himself fascinating a younger woman (Laura Prepon – Alex from Orange Is the New Black and Donna in The 70s Show).  And he stumbles into a viral social media frenzy that promises to reignite his career when it’s too late. But what he hungers for the most is patching things up with his daughter.

Lots of drugs are consumed in this movie, mostly massive amounts of marijuana going up  in smoke.  The Hero’s dream sequences are already vivid and then Lee takes shrooms… Lee becomes the guest star for a bottom-scraping fan group event, and shows up totally high on Molly; the scene is hilarious.

Elliott’s movie debut was playing Card Player #2 in 1969’s Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.  His career went through a hunky phase, but then blossomed in Elliott’s middle age with an indelible performance in 1993’s Gettysburg and then Tombstone, The Big Lebowski, We Were Soldiers, I’ll See You in My Dreams and last year’s Grandma, of which I wrote “worth seeing for ten minutes of Sam Elliott”.

I saw The Hero at the Camera Cinema Club.  There’s nothing here that you haven’t seen before. But then it’s usually worth watching Sam Elliott again, anyway.

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