Bil’s rating (out of 5): B.5.
Alternate Title: Accidental Hero
USA, 1992. Columbia Pictures. Story by Laura Ziskin, Alvin Sargent, David Webb Peoples, Screenplay by David Webb Peoples. Cinematography by Oliver Stapleton. Produced by Laura Ziskin. Music by George Fenton. Production Design by Dennis Gassner. Costume Design by Richard Hornung. Film Editing by Mick Audsley.
Geena Davis plays a reporter so determined to get her story that she’s willing to stand on the ledge of a skyscraper and interview a man just before he jumps to his death, making sure her cameraman captures it on film. On the night that she is returning home from an awards ceremony where she has been honoured for journalism, her plane hits an electrical storm and crashes on a nearly deserted road, right in front of ne’er-do-well Dustin Hoffman as he is driving in his car. Hoffman goes into the plane and rescues all the passengers before it blows up but then disappears, not wanting to be recognized by anyone given that he’s involved in a good deal of shady business, then watches in horror as the homeless man who once gave him a ride (Andy Garcia) takes the credit for the action instead. As Garcia is ushered into national celebrity and wealth, Hoffman has to sort out his legal troubles and his problems with his ex-wife (Joan Cusack) who is frustrated with his inability to be there for their kid. Stephen Frears’ first Hollywood studio movie is an attempt to bring back the spirit of Frank Capra classics like Meet John Doe and Mr. Deeds Goes To Town, mixing a story’s capricious plot turns with a flavour of social commentary for something as enjoyable as it is important. Unfortunately the whole operation falls flat, Davis is giving a performance that would suit the later Coen Brothers film Hudsucker Proxy a lot better than this weird blend of realism and fantasy elements, at odds with Hoffman’s obnoxious performance as an unredeemable and overbearing curmudgeon (imagine him doing Rain Man but only the tantrum scenes). It’s contrived rather constructed in the vein of a classic, plus there’s no actual political message here, the commentary is decorative and never incisive and at more than two hours long, the uncomfortable cuteness of it all is almost unbearable by the end.