The Hero (2017)
R | 1h 33min | Comedy, Drama | 16 June 2017 (USA)
Synopsis: Lee Hayden (Sam Elliott) is a Western icon with a golden voice, but his best performances are decades behind him. He spends his days reliving old glories and smoking too much weed with his former-co-star-turned-dealer, Jeremy (Nick Offerman), until a surprise cancer diagnosis brings his priorities into sharp focus. He soon strikes up an exciting, contentious relationship with stand-up comic Charlotte (Laura Prepon), and he attempts to reconnect with his estranged daughter, Lucy (Krysten Ritter), all while searching for one final role to cement his legacy.
Review: Sam Elliott can say as much with a raised eye brow and smirk of a smile than he can with his signature voice. Most guys work very hard to be only half as cool as Elliott. Even now in his early 70’s he is able to command a role and carry the weight of a film like THE HERO from start to finish; and look good doing it.
Saying that Elliott was type cast in this film is an understatement. You almost have to wonder if writer/director Brett Haley wasn’t creating a memoire of sorts for Sam. It is a fiction piece but some plot lines and scenarios are so tailor made for Elliott that it is hard to imagine it not being true. The Hero takes full advantage of the voice, career, and personality that we have come to know of Sam.
One also has to wonder how common this story line is in the real Hollywood realm. Lee Hayden (Elliott) is an iconic actor still remembered for one role he did 40 years ago. He is estranged from his family, trying to capture one more role, and facing the final curtain on life. Many of the actors we know from the 70’s and 80’s are starting to get up in age and the roles become less and less frequent. They pop up in commercials and tv shows from time to time but we always love them for that one iconic film that is way in the past.
Hayden is a likable character and you feel for him and his circumstances. Elliott does a lot to help with that. His charm is endless. Even when he becomes involved with the 30 something year old Charlotte you still believe it. There are not too many actors of Sam’s age that could sell that. But with Elliott you are like, yeah, I can see that happening. Prepon never seems hesitant to lock lips with the ‘stache. There is much in the script and dialogue that help solidify the relationship with the audience. Older men should not watch this though and think that is what the future holds for them. Hate to break it to you but you aint Sam Elliott.
Though the films overall theme is quite heavy it still feels light. The characters move organically and the story never quite bogs down. There are moments when Hayden will fantasize about the glory days and the film inserts some strange daydream sequences. Luckily these pass quickly and we get to the good stuff.
THE HERO is rated R (drug use, language and some sexual content) and is an adult film. I can’t imagine anyone under the age of 40 finding anything in this to gravitate to. But that is good. In a summer of teen geared films and super hero’s galore it is good to have something for those who just want a good story, textbook acting, and characters who don’t fly. I give it 3.5 out of 5 auditions. I actually liked it and my mom will love it.