Starring: Sam Elliott, Laura Prepon, Nick Offerman, Krysten Ritter, Katharine Ross
Director: Brett Haley
Running Time: 93 Minutes
Rating: R for Never Being Too Old for Drugs and Sex
Release Date: June 9, 2017 (Limited)
If you hear the logline “legendary cowboy actor who gets confused when an awards show clip featuring him goes viral” and do not immediately cast Sam Elliott, well then, I am glad you are not one of the people who made The Hero. The role of Western icon Lee Hayden is as tailor made for the famously drawling, silver-mustachioed Elliott as any role as ever been for anyone. He might not be as confused by modern media or as melancholy as his character is, but I do not know all the details of his personal life, and we all have our moments.
In the midst of Lee’s renewed burst of notoriety, he spends his days smoking weed with his buddy/dealer (Nick Offerman), attempting to reconnect with his estranged daughter (Krysten Ritter), and striking up some sort of an affair with a stand-up comedian a few decades younger than him (Laura Prepon). It is the latter relationship that gets the most narrative weight. May-December romances with big shot men can be a formula for a ton of tired creepiness, but Prepon holds her own in terms of self-assuredness and Elliott plays Lee as ambivalent as any viewer might be. What we see of Prepon’s stand-up is much more questionable.
All that this type of singularly focused character study requires to work are a compelling central performance and at least one resonant idea. We have already established that the former is met (it would be a shock if it weren’t). As for the latter, Lee utters the line, “Movies are other people’s dreams,” and this acts as the driving principle for much of the film. A series of dream sequences feature him at the edge of the ocean, waves lightly breaking in. Nothing much happens, but the mundanity is transcended by the beauty of simply living.
The Hero is Recommended If You Like: Being a Sam Elliott Fanboy
Grade: 3.5 out of 5 Weed Strains