I’ve decided to make a concerted effort to check off all the films not in my edition of the Book. To that end, I’ve decided to start with the earliest film to be removed from the list, 1988’s The Accidental Tourist. The list seems to have quite the liking for William Hurt, who stars in practically every third film from the 1980s, so that coupled with 1001 List regular director Lawrence Kasdan, apparently makes for an automatic inclusion in the inaugural list. That’s all I can see how this made the list in the first place, and really, I’m not too sure it should’ve even done that.
This film has very British sensibilities, but suited for an American audience. I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say that it’s cautious, but it is very, very reserved. If you’re looking for something to really wow you, or even go as far as surprising you, this film certainly shouldn’t be on your list. As for what it offers, well, to be honest, I can’t really come up with anything; the performances are natural (though Geena Davis’ character gets somewhat annoyingly forward at times), the camerawork is standard, the script is perfectly believable; everything is exactly like it would be in real life. And therein lies the problem with this one; it is so much like real life that it becomes boring to watch. This is why films like In the Bedroom, while critically lauded, are such a chore to get through for me; unless there’s some specific subtext or metaphor underlining what is happening, then the film is just offering a look at someone’s life that, aside from the actual events happening to said person, is almost exactly the same as my life. And that’s not why I watch movies.
The Accidental Tourist is probably one of the best examples of why films should always distance themselves from being too like real life. There should always be a layer of fantasy or unrealism between the film itself, and the viewer’s life beyond the fourth wall. Otherwise, you get this film, which while being touching at times, and mildly confrontational at other times, is essentially just following the life of Hurt’s character, and offers no other benefits to watching the film. Watching this film is exactly the same experience as living your life just the same way as Hurt’s character has lived his, and for me, it just didn’t work; it’s been said more often than not that people go to movies for the escapism, that suspension of disbelief that allows them to live a life they couldn’t or wouldn’t live in real life. The Accidental Tourist doesn’t offer that, at all; all the touching and confrontational moments I mentioned are the same such moments everybody occasionally experiences in their own lives, so this film just ends up falling flat for me. I can only hope that you might get more out of it than I did; it’s still a fine film, but there’s really no reason to invest your time into it.
Arbitrary Rating: 6/10