The Accidental Tourist is a quirky movie which manages to be intelligent, funny and deeply moving. Lawrence Kasdan’s faithful rendering of the Anne Tyler novel is for viewers who demand a bit more from a movie than special effects and noise.
The offbeat hero is a glum travel writer who wanders the globe without feeling any connection to the places or people he encounters.
In a sensational performance, William Hurt is Macon Leary from Boston, a writer of guidebooks for weary business travellers, or “accidental tourists.”
He’s tired and drawn and deeply traumatised by the death of his son, with a sickly pallor and dead eyes.
The loss of his son ultimately causes Leary to withdraw from the world, which in turn prompts his wife (Kathleen Turner) to walk out on him.
Recuperating from a broken leg, Leary moves in with his sister (Amy Wright) and brothers (Ed Begley Jr and David Ogden Stiers) – staid middle-aged intellectuals all.
Discipline problems with his dead son’s neurotic dog lead Leary to hire flaky professional dog walker/trainer Muriel Pritchett (Geena Davis). The only non-uptight person within shouting distance, Muriel begins to melt Leary’s self-protective shell.
Once his wife realises that she has some competition, she makes moves to get him back. But he has by now become accustomed to Muriel’s unfettered lifestyle.
Geena Davis won a Supporting Actress Oscar as the space cadet dog trainer who teaches this man how to live again, and Kathleen Turner, in a small but rewarding role, is perfect as the wife who learns to appreciate her husband only after she’s lost him.
The Accidental Tourist is about the dark recesses of the human heart and the unpredictable nature of relationships.
It’s a moment-to-moment movie, full of small insights and big feelings, with another miraculous performance by William Hurt that proves why he’s one of this generation’s most consummate screen actors.
David Ogden Stiers
Ed Begley, Jr
Edward The Dog