Lee, an aging movie star (Sam Elliott), gets some bad news from his doctor—and he tries to make good on some mistakes in the face of big decisions. The plot of The Hero may sound like a done-to-death story to you, and it kind of is, but director and co-screenwriter Brett Haley makes things intriguing, thanks to a great performance from Elliott and an excellent supporting cast.
Elliott is basically playing himself, a Western star known for his big voice and iconic mustache; the part was tailor-made for him. His Lee is sort of a jerk, but he’s the kind of jerk you have to like. (The way that mustache arches with his smile is magical!)
Nick Offerman is stellar as Lee’s drug dealer and best buddy, while Laura Prepon has never been better as the love interest. (Yes, it’s a cliché role, but she takes it to great heights.) Elliott’s real-life wife, the great Katharine Ross, even has a role as Lee’s ex-wife, which must’ve been a little awkward to pull off on set.
The film looks great, especially during Lee’s dreams, which have him acting out a final movie in his head.
In a summer of blockbusters and blockbuster wannabes, The Hero stands out as a fine sleeper.
The Hero is now playing at the Camelot Theatres (2300 E. Baristo Road, Palm Springs; 760-325-6565); and the Palm Desert 10 Cinemas (72840 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-340-0033).