Hero (1992)

Genres - Comedy Drama, Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Media Satire, Satire  |   Release Date - Oct 2, 1992 (USA)  |   Run Time - 116 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Review by Michael Costello

Stephen Frears' fusion of Capra fantasy and Sturges satire is often as sharply hilarious as its models, but veers off the track with an inflated finish. Dustin Hoffman stars as a petty thief who pulls 54 people out of a downed plane, but must allow an attractive homeless man (Andy Garcia) to accept the hefty reward, due to his understandable need to "keep a low profile." The film sets up the grimy reality of the character's life, playing it humorously off his nearly paranoid delusions, while establishing his love for his wife and child. It rolls along beautifully in this mode until the plot forces him to make a bid to get the reward money that he thinks would solve his problems. Instead of wrapping this up quickly (like Sturges et al.), the filmmakers drag out the ending with a fulsomely operatic coda awash in sentimentality. Its Capraesque ending is out of tune with this dark, decidedly non-Capra character. Yet the script is rarely less than smart and entertaining, satirically noting heroism's easy association with looks and charm in a media-saturated age. Until his final few scenes, which he stretches out interminably, Hoffman gives a brilliant performance in the kind of "little man" role that has become his specialty. Andy Garcia is appropriately charismatic as the public's hero, and Geena Davis gives a wonderfully nuanced performance as a tough reporter with a soft heart.