The Accidental Tourist (1988)

Genres - Comedy Drama, Romance  |   Sub-Genres - Romantic Drama  |   Release Date - Dec 23, 1988 (USA)  |   Run Time - 121 min.  |   Countries - Canada, United States  |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Karl Williams

Geena Davis won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in this unusually somber but richly rewarding effort from writer and director Lawrence Kasdan, adapting an acclaimed novel by Anne Tyler. Davis is terrific in one of her best roles, but her character is admittedly the sort of wacky, quirky oddball that awards voters love to honor. The real heart and soul of the picture is William Hurt as a man so thunderstruck by grief that he is incapable of emotional movement, walking through his life as a ghost just waiting for its body to die. His eventual thawing is a wonder to behold, the work of a gifted actor at the absolute peak of his career. Although it could have and probably, in the hands of another director, would have become a much darker drama, Kasdan leavens his film with the character-driven humor of Tyler's source material to superb effect. In particular, the family of kooks played by David Ogden Stiers, Ed Begley Jr., and Amy Wright is not only a comic diversion, but serves as a poignant mirror image of the hero's internal malfunctioning, as does a subplot involving one of them in a thwarted relationship with a publisher (Bill Pullman). Stirring both intellectually and emotionally, The Accidental Tourist is an observant, splendidly crafted film.