17 July 2015

Film review: Accidental Tourist (1989) by Lawrence Kasdan, ****


William Hurt, Kathleen Turner, Geena Davis. An author of travel books who is coping with his son's death and his wife's departure has his outlook on life brightened by an offbeat dog trainer. Davis won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress from one of four total nominations. 1988/color/121 min/PG.


This movie is not really about traveling and when I was done watching it I did not plan to review it for this blog. But then I watched it again and I thought it is ALSO about traveling, and not just because the protagonist is a travel guide writer. In fact, that has nothing to do with it. It is a movie about traveling because there are so  many of us who are accidental tourists, though many of us do not even recognize we are.

How many times we go places not because we want to but because we have to? Or for no reason at all? And yet it is part of the innate curiosity of a real traveler to explore new destinations for no reason other than the fact that they exist and we came to know that they are there.

Not only Macon did not want to be a travel writer, but he hates traveling. He's got a job to do however, so he goes places.  He writes guide books for people who, like him, would rather never leave home. And his books are popular precisely because that's the way his readers feel as well. "While armchair travelers dream of going places, traveling armchairs dream of staying put." Macon is a traveling armchair, really, and yet a trip to Paris (a place he'd rather avoid and where he looks for American fast food, while others would kill to have a chance to visit) will define the rest of his life. Is it all by accident?

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