THE HERO — Review by Martha K. Baker

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Fans of Sam Elliott will line up to see him star in “The Hero.” For the Sam Elliott Fan Club, the film offers plenty of views of his push broom mustache, the envy of miners throughout Silesia, and of his lanky lenghth, plus the exhilarating sound of that bass voice. But, ‘The Hero’ rides small in the saddle. Continue reading…

“The Hero” offers less in terms of plot. There’s not much new in a story about a film star reduced to recording voice-overs for commercials. For cowboy Lee Hayden, that commercial is for barbecue sauce, and he has to deliver his line over and over and maintain his patience. His agent announces that Lee is to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Western Appreciation and Preservation Guild. Goody.

Lee’s doctor announces something almost as deadly. So now, the cowboy has to do some lifetime totaling. He has to consider how he’s going to make amends with his daughter since he was never there when she needed him.

Luckily, his neighbor sells marijuana, the “devil’s lettuce,” so Lee is able to take the edge off his life. Still, it’s daunting. To his family, he announces, “I have some news for you,” but the news is that he’s making a movie, not that he’s facing his closing credits.

The good news about “The Hero” is Elliott, who wears this role like a pair of good leather chaps. Equal to him is Nick Offerman as his weed-whacking neighbor and former co-star. Katharine Ross, from “The Graduate,” plays Lee’s ex-wife easily as she’s been Elliott’s wife for 32 years. Krysten Ritter raises the small role of Lee’s daughter to greater heights, but it’s Laura Prepon from “That 70s Show,” who energizes her role as the new, young woman in Lee’s life.

Brett Haley directed “The Hero” (not Lee’s signature film but this one). Haley co-wrote the script with Marc Basch, leaving lots of silence as befits a cowboy of few words. “The Hero” is a satisfying story if an old one. No surprises but a lot of sympathies.

This is Martha Baker with a KDHX film review of “The Hero.”

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Martha K. Baker (Archived Contributor)

I first taught film at Lakeland College in Wisconsin in 1969 and became a professional film reviewer in 1976 in St. Louis, Mo. Through the years, I have reviewed films for the St. Louis Business Journal, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Episcopal Life, and KWMU (NPR), among other outlets. I've reviewed at KDHX radio, my current outlet, for nearly 20 years.