The Accidental Tourist (1988)
The third Lawrence Kasdan/William Hurt teaming is an unconventional and arduous but ultimately rewarding film that treats life like the bumpy struggle that it is – add a little pessimism. After losing a son to a brutal, meaningless murder and subsequently a wife who has grown tired of their faltering marriage, tour guide writer Macon Leary has to pick himself up and find a way to heal his dysfunctional existence. The cure might just be Muriel, the free-spirited, direct woman he meets at the local kennel.
William Hurt retains his typical formal, intellectual persona, but removes all his usual wit, spirits and confidence for his portrayal of Macon Leary. The result is a remarkably constrained and dense performance. Macon is a pain to watch, but we never give up on him. Geena Davis is a breath of fresh and uncontrollable air by his side. Unpolished and clumsy, but full of life. Add to that a family trapped in the 'Leary groove', and Kasdan brings to screen a skewed take on life filled with people that are in states of mind that you never want to find yourself, but that you'll still more or less recognize. Kasdan's adaptation from Anne Tyler's novel is a testament to why converting books to film can be both very rewarding and very challenging. Kasdan's achievement is that his objective is to go all the way – there are no compromises here. And although The Accidental Tourist might threaten to wear the viewer out, it also will have something out of the ordinary to offer. It's a depressing feel-good movie.