The Hero
Drama, Comedy
IMDB rating:
Brett Haley
Katharine Ross as Valarie Hayden
Andy Allo as Bartender
Cameron Esposito as Cameron Esposito
Jackie Joyner as Betsy
Christopher May as Director
Nick Offerman as Jeremy Frost
Max Gail as Gary Babcock
Doug Cox as Doctor
Laura Prepon as Charlotte Dylan
Frank Collison as Man in Dream
Krysten Ritter as Lucy Hayden
Patrika Darbo as Diane
Sam Elliott as Lee Hayden
Storyline: Lee Hayden is a veteran actor of Westerns whose career's best years are behind him after his one really great film, "The Hero." Now, scraping by with voice overs for commercials, Lee learns that he has a terminal prognosis of pancreatic cancer. Unable to bring himself to tell anyone about it, especially his estranged family, Lee can only brood alone as troubling, yet inspiring, dreams haunt him. Things change when he meets Charlotte Dylan, a stand-up comedian who becomes a lover who inadvertently jump-starts his public profile. Now facing a profound emotional conflict of having a potential career comeback even as his imminent death is staring him in the face, Lee must finally come to terms with both realities when he finally confesses his situation to the one person he can.
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The Bookend to "Lifeguard"
"Baby Driver" this is not.

Being of the same vintage as Sam and having grown up in a SoCal beach town, I have long enjoyed the truths of "Lifeguard" (1976). There, Sam E is "Rick", a 30-something of the 70s who "acts" on the beach for a living (so much of beach life guarding is "acting" for the public.) Rick is confronted by a decision to grow up, but he ultimately yields to the temptation of a 17-year old beach groupie who does not fit into her new world (she has just moved to the beach town.)

Spoiler alert?

Jump forward 40+ years and "Rick" is now "Lee", and Laura Prepon is that "too young for him" female who does not fit the norms of her world and challenges his world that has been thrown into turmoil by a cancer diagnosis.

It's not a perfect extrapolation, but the story is told with intelligent conversation and good directing. Not an ounce of CGI to be seen.
A must-see movie. Sam Elliott at his best
This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend an advance showing of The Hero.

If you see nothing this summer but one movie, see this one.

Sam Elliott stars as an ailing actor coming to terms with his own mortality, along with his past and his strained relationships.

Sam's portrayal of the main character, Lee Hayden, was riveting. He conveyed raw emotion on screen, almost a voyeuristic event, peering into an emotional train wreck as the character tries to find the answers while he self-medicates through life.

It was real. It was believable. And it is quite possibly Elliott's greatest work.

I left the theater wanting more.
That's it?
Always makes me laugh when I see American filmmakers try to make serious movies. By that I don't mean there are no serious American filmmakers. There are, of course there are. But Haley should first try something simpler, an action movie or a thriller, not drama about complicated real life stuff. He's like a child playing at being grown up. A pathetic movie. Not worth even one point.
Watch it for Sam Elliott's performance
"The Hero" brings the story of Lee. As the movie opens, Lee is voicing his latest commercial for Lone Star BBQ Sauce. "Can you do that one more time", the producer asks again and again. Later on, Lee's agent gives him the good news he's been selected to receive a life time award from the Western Appreciation Guild. But Lee also receives bad news when his doctor tells him he has pancreatic cancer and he must start treatment right away. Deflated, Lee goes to a buddy, who also supplies him with weed and other drugs. By chance, Charlotte stops by at the same time for her own supply of weed. At this point we are 10 min. into the movie, but to tell you more of the plot would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.

Couple of comments: this is the latest movie from writer-director Brett Haley, who previously brought us "I'll See you In My Dreams". Here Haley reflects on the life if an aging Western actor whose only significant role was in "The Hero", a movie made in the 70s. "I've been busy, not achieving", Lee comments. Haley pays attention to the details, as of course it's the small things in life that make most of our lives. Whether the relationship between the Lee character (in his early 70s) and the Charlotte character (in her late 30s) is believable I will leave to you to decide... The movie is chock-full of top performances, none of which more so than Sam Elliott, who seems to be only getting better as he is getting older. Other noteworthy roles come from Laura Prepon as Charlotte (in a role MILES away from her TV work in That 70s Show and Orange Is the New Black), and also Katharine Ross as Lee's ex (she is Elliott's wife in real life). And if you wonder who Edna St. Vincent Millay is, this movie will explain once and for all...

"The Hero" opened on 2 screens for all of Greater Cincinnati this weekend, and I wouldn't wait to see it. The Friday evening screening where I saw this at was attended very nicely (but not sold out). If you are in the mood for a movie that plays out rather predictably but nevertheless is enjoyable to take in and features a career-best performance from Sam Elliott, "The Hero" is just for you, be it in the theater, on VOD or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray.
Nothing Heroic
Not sure why people go all gaga when an older actor makes a movie about being an older actor. This is one of the worse renditions of an older actor playing an older actor though. The script is awful as can be - it is poorly written and the majority of the movie is Sam Elliot getting high.

These types of movies are supposed to make you feel something positive for the main character, but I didn't like his character at all.

A movie that really should not have been made. Not the old character movies that Clint Eastwood makes in any way, shape or form.
Emotional Moments of Clarity
Sam Elliott plays Lee Hayden, a dying actor who's struggling to deal with his mortality.

I've never watched a Sam Elliott movie until the day I saw, The Hero. I've seen him in other stuff, but I've just never watched him as the lead in a movie before is all I'm saying.

Sam Elliott is great in The Hero, he owns the screen with his acting and his voice. This man has the most awesome voice I've ever had the pleasure of hearing. The opening scene alone got me hooked into Elliott's character and the film.

Lee is trying to come to terms with his past. On occasion, Lee goes out to the ocean and gazes upon its beauty. Lee also has some bad dreams that pretty much keep him from getting a good night sleep.

Nick Offerman plays Jeremy who is a close friend of Lee's. Lee and Jeremy occasionally hang-out and smoke joints together. I enjoyed all of their scenes together, there's nothing like kicking back and having your best friend by your side. Also, Offerman and Elliott had good on-screen chemistry.

Laura Prepon plays Charlotte, Lee's love interest, and I believed them as a couple. Prepon is mostly known from That 70's Show and Orange is the new black, she completely severs her 70's show character here, she becomes her own person, and she proves that she can be a fierce actor.

Krysten Ritter plays Lucy Hayden and her character is the weakest link. Ritter delivers a decent enough performance, but she's not giving a whole lot of material to work with to showcase her range here.

The Hero is a straight-forward movie about having emotional moments of clarity during tough times. I like The Hero, the musical choices are great, the scenery is beautiful, the relationships are good, the pacing is great, and Sam Elliott owns the screen with his voice and presence.

For a more in-depth review, check out my video:
Takes your time and leaves you with nothing.
Films are such downers these days.

Old guy gets diagnosed with aggressive cancer inexplicably attracts a woman 30 or so years younger than him Nothing else happens.

I appreciate good acting, but it needs to be a good experience.

If you want to see an entertaining and moving film about getting old then see 'Last cab to Darwin'...
Sam Elliot Is my hero
Keeping it going for the veteran actors, I like Sam Elliot's place in movies at this time, like his role as  Blythe Danner's sexy love interest in I'll See You in My Dreams,  but now he's doing a leading role for himself as an old western icon in a painful time in his life and trying to deal with it. Lucky for him he has Laura Prepon to help with those hard times.

I got to look up Elliot's old movies. I'm familiar with the silver haired Elliot and I'm wondering if there was something before this, (And does any of his work matter before Road House?)

Touching and slow. Also like how different the role of the Hero is than his role on the Netflix show, the Ranch, where he plays the father of Prepon's old That 70s Show cast mates Aston Kucther and Danny Masterson, Yet the role is still very very Sam Elliot.

Nice slow mellow pace, but still cool, making it great for Sam Elliot.
The Great Sam Elliott delivers the performance of a lifetime
If "The Hero" was released before both "The Wrestler" and "Crazy Heart" it could have been more poignant and well-received, but by now, this kind of plot became tired and cliché ridden. Like Mickey Rourke (not much like Jeff Bridges), the trajectory of the lead character mirrors the real life & career of the great (& criminally underused) character actor, Sam Elliott, one of the last truly manly actors in Hollywood, which offered brilliant turns as the supporting performer in a bunch of well-known & nowadays classic or cult movies such as "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid"; "The Sacketts"; "Mask"; "Road House"; "Rush"; "Tombstone"; "Gettysburg"; "The Big Lebowski"; "We Were Soldiers" among lots of others. His distinctive rugged cowboy looks, sporting a thick mustache and a peculiar, deep & resonant voice, made him being typecast in the cowboy or biker roles, but his sturdy & masculine presence, sweating charisma, always highlighted him above the main cast (especially as Gar in "Mask" or Wade Garrett, Patrick Swayze's mentor in "Road House"). Here, Sam Elliott had finally the chance to fully embrace a lead character, playing a 'washed-out' western movie star, doing voice-overs to survive while looking for work in a Movie Industry that no longer recognizes him as a bankable actor. Elliott's understated, but powerful performance of bringing this tragic character to life, was a 'tour de force' delivering & the last 'hurrah" from a purist old cowboy trapped in a modern world he can't (and don't want to) understand. The movie itself drags on too much for its own good and could have been more meaningful, if a better screenplay was written (or revised), distancing itself a little more from "The Wrestler" stereotype. The supporting players are all there for Elliott, delivering genuine performances from Laura Prepon to Elliott's real life wife and frequent co-star, Katharine Ross ("The Graduate"; "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid"; "The Stepford Wives"). A morbid fact is that the pancreatic cancer which the lead character is suffering was the same that, unfortunately, killed Elliott's younger friend and early co-star, Patrick Swayze. Verdict: Even if it wasn't all that original, it's a movie that deserves to be seen and in a perfect world, Sam Elliott should be nominated for the Best Actor in a Leading Role award, it's one of the best (& committed) performances i've seen this year.
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