User Reviews (41)

  • sergeslevin24 January 2017
    7/10
    Sam Elliott delivers the performance of his lifetime
    I had an opportunity to watch the film during its premiere at Sundance. Beautifully shot: romantic spans of ocean and countryside were breathtaking. Sam Elliott carried the film from the start to the very end. As the director had stated during the Q&A, if Sam refused for whatever reason to do this role, there wouldn't be this film.

    Very emotional narrative. Depressing at times, but cathartic overall. It's a slow paced exploration of life, rejection, denial, depression, and ultimately death. The perception of death is a big theme in The Hero. Driven by a power poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay - 'Conscientious Objector': "I shall die, but that is all that I shall do for Death."

    Great film for audience that enjoys movies like: "21 Grams", "Manchester by the Sea", and "The Hours".
  • David Ferguson17 June 2017
    7/10
    life and art
    Greetings again from the darkness. It's considered bad form to gush over a film or actor during a review, but come on … it's Sam Elliott, dripping masculinity from his signature mustache - beloved by men and women alike. Writer/director Brett Haley (I'll See You in My Dreams) offers up not just a rare lead role for Mr. Elliott, but also one that seems to closely parallel his actual 45+ year career.

    Aging western actor Lee Hayden (Elliott) opens and closes the film in a sound booth, progressively more annoyed at each of the director's requests for just 'one more' take on his voice-over for a BBQ commercial. What happens in between will likely be judged by critics as one cliché after another, but it's also the chance to see an actor north of 70 years old fight through a wide range of emotions and situations, each grounded in struggles many of us will face at some point in our lives.

    When the doctor delivers the worst possible news regarding a recent biopsy, Lee has every intention of telling his ex-wife (the rarely seen these days Katharine Ross, Elliott's real life wife of 30+ years) and estranged daughter (Krysten Ritter). Neither attempt goes well, and instead, Lee finds himself on the sofa of child actor-turned-drug dealer Jeremy Frost (an admirable stage name for Nick Offerman's character) toking on a joint and watching classic silent films. In fact, the recurring themes of beach, blunt, bourbon and Buster (Keaton) are there to solidify the notion that Lee is a creature of habit, and it's meeting Jeremy's customer Charlotte (Laura Prepon) that finally jolts him back to life.

    Charlotte is a stand-up comedian and would-be poet who has an unusually accelerated attraction to older men. Of course, she can't resist Lee, and a May-December romance develops in his last chance at happiness (cliché number 7 or 8, I lost track). Charlotte accompanies him to an event where an obscure group of western film lovers is presenting Lee with a Lifetime Achievement award, and she also becomes somewhat of a life adviser – counseling him to come clean with his family. To ensure no viewer misses out on the sentimentality, Charlotte recites the poems of Edna St Vincent Millay and reminds us all that buying more time is usually the right call.

    As Lee and Jeremy munch on Chinese food after the cloud of smoke has cleared, Lee has a great rebuttal to Jeremy balking at hearing his story: "A movie is someone else's dream." That sentiment is something I try to hold onto whenever reviewing a movie, as it's important to remember that it's the artist (writer, director, actor) who is taking the risk by putting their work on display. It also fits in with the theme here of finding one's place – putting one's legacy in order. Contemplating morality and softening regrets are natural steps to take, and each of us should make it easier for those trying. So, scoff at the sentimentality and clichés if you must, but the messages here are loud and clear and important.

    Although I had previously seen him (oh so briefly, accusing Redford of cheating) in Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid (1969), and then again in the late night cult classic Frogs (1972), it was his breakout role in Lifeguard (1976) that made me a Sam Elliott fan for life. Depending on your age, your introduction to his screen presence might have been as Cher's biker boyfriend in Mask (1985), Patrick Swayze's pugilistic partner in Roadhouse (1989), Virgil Earp in Tombstone (1993), the wise stranger at the bowling alley in The Big Lebowski (1998), the Marlboro Man in Thank You for Smoking (2005), delivering a gut-punch as Lily Tomlin's former lover in Grandma (2015), or as Timothy Olyphant's nemesis in "Justified". Elliott is the paradigm for the pregnant pause, and combined with that baritone drawl, ultra cool demeanor, bushy mustache, and head-cocked-at-an-angle glance, he undoubtedly won you over to believe him in whatever role it was … because that's how icons become icons.

    Paraphrasing a line in the film: the Sam Elliott voice can sell anything – pot, bbq, Dodge, clichéd roles – and I happen to be buying (gushing).
  • hipCRANK23 June 2017
    8/10
    The moustache that roared.
    Lifetime character actor Sam Elliott was born to play this part, or perhaps this film was written specifically for Sam Elliott. Whatever the case, the big screen's most famous moustache finally lands a career changing role as a septuagenarian.

    Once, and only once, Lee Hayden was a big screen cowboy presence. Now, now he gets by with voice overs for barbecue sauce. But oh what a voice. Real life parallels abound: Elliott is best known for small cameos, TV and commercial work, but is still a much loved and recognized celebrity.

    As the ticker is about to roll 72, Hayden is given some terminally awful news, giving the ol' coot some pause to ponder a stalled career and failed family life. A December - May romance gets the ball rolling, as our hero sets out to make some amends.

    What could have been a terribly sappy piece of fluff, is actually a lovely paced rumination on the very complicated topic of existence, with a wonderful, understated, and vulnerable performance from Elliott: Hollywood's new leading man.

    Warning: guns are drawn, and poetry is read.
  • jon.h.ochiai14 June 2017
    8/10
    Courage and Frailty in "The Hero"
    In "The Hero" Sam Elliott as aging Western star Lee Hayden smokes joints with his buddy and supplier Jeremy, played by funny Nick Offerman, at his Malibu Beach home. Lee sizes up beautiful Goth Charlotte, played by striking Laura Prepon, who waits for her own stash from Jeremy. Charlotte gazes at Lee, "You look sad." Prior to this radio voice over actor Lee, discovers from his doctor that he has late stage pancreatic cancer, he is dying. That eloquent scene elicits the poignancy of Writer and Director Brett Haley's "The Hero". Haley and Marc Basch's screenplay is the uncompromising story of mortality.

    "The Hero" is predictable, yet Elliott's authentic bold performance elevates the movie into something special. I saw "The Hero" at a special showing followed by a question and answer session with stars Sam Elliott and Nick Offerman. Sam said that the role was not at all biographical. We all deal with mortality. Sam said he is not the drug head like Lee, and Lee is basically someone who "screws up his own life." However, Director Haley hints that Lee has the possibility of recreating his life. That along with Elliott's fearless performance made me rejoice and respect the movie.

    Lee really had screwed up his life. His ex-wife Valerie, played by Elliott's real life wife Katherine Ross, has moved on as a successful art dealer. But initially, he can't tell Valerie that he is dying. His estranged daughter Lucy, played by strong Krysten Ritter, remains distant, but desperately yearns for her Father's love. He has proved the tragic disappointment for her. Lee is attracted to the beguiling and charismatic Charlotte (Prepon), who is little older than Lucy. Charlotte is the aspiring stand up comic, whose mutual magnetism seems genuine. Lee created the mess of his life, and needs to clean it up.

    Lee was a big movie star in the 1970's and 1980's. His signature movie was the classic Western "The Hero". His agent calls and tells him that some Western Heritage Film Society wants to honor him with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Being that he does voice-overs for barbecue sauce, he agrees to attend the gala. Possible love interest Charlotte agrees to attend with Lee. Before the awards dinner, Lee and Charlotte get high on Ecstasy. Cowboy charming Lee gives an inspiring acceptance speech about "I'm nothing without you…"

    The YouTube video of his speech goes viral, and Lee becomes the Internet sensation. His agent calls him about an audition for part in a big budget sci-fi movie. He runs some cheesy lines with Jeremy practicing for the audition. Jeremy is also the friend, who worked with him in the past. The lines resonate with Lee's soul, reminding of Lucy, his daughter. He says, "I'm here…" Elliott is moving and powerful. "The Hero" transforms in that moment. "The Hero" is a lesson in empathy and compassion. Elliott embodies Lee's humanity, both his courage and his frailty. Yes, "The Hero" is predictable, and so very human.

    Lee courageously and clumsily owns the mistakes that he made in his life, and makes amends with the women in his life. His romance with fiery Charlotte is rocky. At one point she betrays him out of her own selfishness. Prepon is the graceful enigma as Charlotte, self-absorbed yet gentle soul-ed. The movie is adamant in portraying their age gap, and imparts touching sweetness. They are sublime as Charlotte reads Lee her favorite poem. Too bad Ross isn't leveraged more here as Valerie. Elliott and Ross have an amazing scene that illuminates their unique affinity.

    Haley lyrically captures the calm of the Malibu ocean. Ritter's Lucy says to her Dad, "It's beautiful here." Elliott's Lee looks at his daughter, "Yes, it is." "The Hero" is best in its stillness and humanity. Life is both courage and frailty. "The Hero" arises from this.
  • Danny Blankenship25 July 2017
    9/10
    One last final look and stare into the sunset of life, while coming to past terms before facing final fate. Plus an all pro performance from Sam Elliott.
    So far for 2017 "The Hero" is the best film that I've seen the story seems real and it's a showcase of past reflection and how one can come to terms with future fate even if it does appear to be tragic. And Sam Elliott gives maybe the best performance of his acting life as Lee Hayden a past his prime and washed up western country film actor who's best days and work is behind him, as now Lee only does voice overs like barbecue radio ads with his gravel deep baritone voice. Still he hopes for a comeback.

    Of late Lee's days are full of whiskey drinking and weed smoking and he only has memories of his past glory. And his family life is strained as he's divorced from his wife and wants to reconnect with his stubborn strong headed daughter Lucy(Krsten Ritter). And life has dealt Lee another bad deck keeping him behind the 8 ball as he's just got word of terminal pancreatic cancer.

    Lee's only current bright side is his meeting and one night stand with Charlotte(Laura Prepon)a crude and rude stand up comic, and Lee learns that love and relationships is like stormy waters that go up and down. Thru it all Lee is reflecting and coming to terms with the past of memories, old glory, and family and while facing the future fate of one last sunset in front of his California beach home and the rolling waves. Overall very good picture that is a showcase that one only has reflection and memories toward the end proving that coming to terms with the past like family and love is important before one is faced with a future morality. And Sam Elliott is my "Hero" clearly his greatest performance ever.
  • TheTruthDoor10 July 2017
    7/10
    Why Was "The Hero" Released in the Summer??
    "The Hero" is by far Sam Elliot's best acting performance ever. It is heartfelt and real throughout the movie.

    The other actors were good and able to keep the movie going throughout.

    The plot was also interesting and had a couple of twists that I did not see coming. (Who was hanged? And the painful stand-up comedy routine.)

    This is a slow movie with a story. It's not an action thriller so get some popcorn and a drink, sit back, relax and watch it.

    My question is the timing of the release. This is an adult, drama and should have been released after school starts. That would put it at the end of the year and closer to Academy Awards time.

    I believe Sam Elliot will and should get a nomination for Best Actor.
  • ccorral41913 July 2017
    9/10
    A good film to spend your summer movie going dollars
    Director Brett Haley once again joins writing forces with Marc Basch (both of "I'll See You in My Dreams" - 2015) to present a LA based story that feels current, plausible and welcoming. Ruggedly handsome and gruff toned Sam Elliott ("Grace and Frankie") is Lee Hayden, an actor past his prime now doing quirky VoiceOvers and smoking pot and drinking with his former actor co-star Jeremy (the always enjoyable Nick Offerman "Parks and Recreation"). When fellow pot-head Charlotte (another TV favorite Laura Prepon "That 70's Show) appears on the scene, her unique love affair with Lee pushes him to face some important life decisions, including his relationship with estranged daughter Lucy (the beautiful Krysten Ritter - TV's "Jessica Jones") and his Ex Valerie (one of my favorites Katharine Ross - "Donnie Darko" - 2001: a film I was also in!). I love when a director welcomes familiar character actors to join a film, and here Doug Cox, Max Gail, Patrika Darbo, Cameron Esposito and Christopher May are a welcomed infusion to the story. "The Hero" is a sound film with good storytelling, presented at a time when summer animation, CGI and explosion films are seeking your movie going dollar.
  • Tweetienator9 September 2017
    7/10
    Quiet & Great
    A fine little movie with a great cast and a superb tone of melancholy. A little love story, aging, death, loneliness, reconciliation, and the trial about one's life's achievements - The Hero is a quiet movie with all the great themes of human existence. Sam Elliot plays the lead just exquisite and convincing, and the performances of his side-kicks Laura Prepon, Krysten Ritter and Nick Offerman give him a lot to work with and the right canvas for his play. The Hero is an emotional, sad and contemplative movie with some bright spots and fine humor refined with some poetic works by Edna St. Vincent Millay. Alone the reading of the poem Dirge Without Music by Laura Prepon at the end of the movie... A movie for a mature audience.
  • george.schmidt24 June 2017
    9/10
    Elliott gives an Oscar-worthy turn
    Warning: Spoilers
    THE HERO (2017) *** 1/2 Sam Elliott, Laura Prepon, Krysten Ritter, Nick Offerman, Katharine Ross, Max Gail. Elliott gives an Oscar-worthy turn as an on the wane actor who, between getting high with his pot dealer and attempting to bond with his estranged daughter, is diagnosed with cancer leading to some life re-affirming with a new love (Prepon) and a lifetime achievement award in the process. Director Brett Haley's screenplay with Marc Basch is tailor-made for the erstwhile Elliott whose under appreciation and sublime performance mirrors his own career to boot.
  • Tess Burnside18 June 2017
    10/10
    A must-see movie. Sam Elliott at his best
    Warning: Spoilers
    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.
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