HERO —-the ghosts of Frank Capra and 1941’s Meet John Doe glint through this 1992 comedy-drama. No surprise, as that’s clearly what the makers of this fable aimed for—and pretty much hit—a Capraesque feel for “the little guy.”
Like the oldie, Character and Truth are the hooks the story hangs on, as pickpocket and petty criminal Dustin Hoffman helps rescue people from an airplane crash, rewarding himself for his altruism by lifting wallets and purses in the process. When Andy Garcia, another down & out fellow, claims the publicity spotlight as the hero, complications ensue, including a mix-up with reporter Geena Davis, saved from the crash and thinking the wrong guy did it.
Hoffman is excellent as usual, ditto Davis, and it’s nice to see Garcia in a quiet, change-of-pace role. Chevy Chase tries to step out of his standard persona, with so-so success. Good scripting (David Webb Peoples), nice production values, directed by Stephen Frears. Costing $42,000,000, it ranked a failure by only bringing back $66,807,000 worldwide, posting a loss of $25,600,000 once print and insurance were allowed their chomp. Reviews were positive. It’s a nice film.
Frears commented: “I didn’t know how you filmed a plane crash. And it’s not that Dustin was difficult, but having big stars skews the movie; you have to concentrate on this enormous investment. I’m sure I could handle it now, but at the time it knocked me down like a train…. we had $42m to deal with, and it was flying all over the place.”
112 minutes, with Joan Cusack, Kevin J. O’Connor, Maury Chaykin, Stephen Tobolowsky, Tom Arnold, Warren Berlinger, Daniel Baldwin, Michael Talbott, Jeff Garlin, Edward Herrmann, Fisher Stevens.