One of the most notorious flops of the late '90s, this science fiction adventure from director and actor Kevin Costner suffers from an inflated sense of self-importance, mawkish jingoism, and its star's limited range. However, it is also certainly not the train wreck that was Costner's earlier cinematic sci-fi misfire Waterworld (1995). Like that film, this one starts off okay with some nicely mounted if overlong scenes and then gradually becomes increasingly absurd. Although there is no instance of Dennis Hopper appearing in an eye patch aboard the Exxon Valdez here, there is an effort to mythologize the U.S. mail that seems rather goofy without a bit of further delineation. Ringing equally hollow are some convoluted, silly detours involving procreation, a demented military leader (why is everyone not just shooting this guy again?), and even a bizarre cameo by Tom Petty playing himself. It's too bad that these poorly thought-out elements ruin what is at times an interesting film with dandy ideas about reluctant sacrifice, true patriotism, reality's sadly humorous march into mythology, and humanity's thirst for heroes. Unfortunately, its strong points are overwhelmed by the hagiographic treatment that the star affords himself and some guffaw-inducing dialogue. The Postman (1997), like so many science fiction failures, is a really fascinating idea executed poorly by people who don't seem all that familiar with what works and what doesn't in this difficult genre.