[box cover]

The Accidental Tourist

In the aftermath of the tragic death of their child, Macon Leary (William Hurt) and his wife Sarah (Kathleen Turner) split up. A travel writer who hates to travel, Macon drifts dully through the routine of his days, working on his "Accidental Tourist" series of guides for reluctant travelers and seemingly unaware of the deep depression in which he dwells — until he meets Muriel (Geena Davis), a dog groomer intent on pulling Macon out of his shell. An exceptionally canny adaptation of Anne Tyler's novel, The Accidental Tourist (1988) is a brilliantly crafted character study, presenting Macon's neurotic, insular, anal-retentive family (painfully and, at times, hysterically played by David Ogden Stiers, Amy Wright and Ed Begley, Jr.) without judgment — that they refuse to answer their telephone for fear it'll interfere with their routine, treasuring their tightly wound sameness with neurotic intensity — is all the explanation we need to understand Macon's personality. Hurt is superb, offering one of his finest performances as a man utterly out of touch with his own emotions and struggling to stay that way against almost insurmountable odds. But to Macon's chagrin, Muriel is almost a force of nature — though it's difficult to imagine what she sees in the laconic, inwardly focused Macon, her sheer joie de vivre, along with Macon's gradual acceptance by Muriel's young son as a father figure, encourages Macon to warily rejoin the rest of humanity. Director Lawrence Kasdan's script, co-written with Frank Galati, captures the quirky, bittersweet quality of Tyler's book, retaining both the novel's heart — which is considerable — and it's many laugh-out-loud funny moments. Davis won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role. Warner's DVD release offers a very good, if slightly soft, anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) — the film's muted color palette is well represented here, with the more colorful Muriel's occasionally eye-popping outfits providing an amusing contrast to all the somber earth-tones in the rest of Macon's world. The Dolby 2.0 Surround audio is serviceable but unremarkable — dialogue is primary here, and John Williams' score is surprisingly subtle. Extras include a loving, scene-specific commentary by Geena Davis (an on-screen icon cues the viewer as to which scenes have commentary) and the behind-the-scenes featurette "It's Like Life" (13 min.), in which Kasdan, Davis and Turner discuss the film's story and characters — basically telling the entire story of the film, so watch the movie first. There's also deleted scenes and the theatrical trailer. Snap-case.
—Dawn Taylor

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