Review

  • RELEASED IN 1977 and directed by Jeremy Kagan, "Heroes" details events in the mid-70s when a quirky PTSD patient at a New York City veteran's hospital (Henry Winkler) escapes to start a worm farm in Eureka, California. He meets a young woman on the bus (Sally Field) and they have many adventures in their journey across the country wherein the man must come to terms with his 'demons' before successfully moving on with a potential babe by his side. Harrison Ford appears as a mentally dubious race car driver from the sticks in Missouri.

    Winkler was riding a wave of popularity due to his role as Fonzie on Happy Days when "Heroes" was shot in 1976. Despite its obscurity, it was a hit at the box office, grossing $33.5 million on a $3.2 million budget, and opened at #1. It's similar in tone to Jack Nicholson's "Five Easy Pieces" (1970) and "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (1975) and, actually, is a meshing of those two movies, but it's nowhere near as good. There's something about Winkler's kooky character that doesn't ring true and so it takes forever to catch a grip with him. Thankfully, you eventually do by the second half.

    Another problem is obvious plot holes. For example, would two thugs steal over $1000 and nonchalantly hang out in the nearest, most obvious place in which to find them? Would an intelligent young woman (or man) rashly drive a car through the walls of an establishment, risking the lives of any innocent person who happened to be on the other side of the walls (whom she can't see)? I suppose it could be argued that she peeked through the window just before pulling the stunt but, even then, she still wouldn't be 100% certain no one would be near that wall when she drove through it.

    Nevertheless, it's great seeing Winkler star in a movie in the mid-70s as someone besides The Fonz, not to mention seeing both Field and Ford when they were so young. Harrison was on the verge of shooting to fame with "Star Wars," released the same year. The message of the movie is worthy too and is the first post-Vietnam War film to address the topic of PTSD (major release anyway), although it's done better in "Coming Home" (1978). There's some low-key humor thrown in here and there with a ventriloquist dummy episode on the bus being particularly amusing.

    The original song that ushered in the end credits was Kansas' "Carry On Wayward Son," but it was removed for legal reasons on the DVD, which is the version I watched. The substitute song "Heroes" isn't anywhere near the greatness of the Kansas number, of course, but it ain't bad and the lyrics are actually more fitting. Yes, it's bland by comparison, but a 4-minute song at the end doesn't make or break an almost two-hour movie; it's just extra toppings on a cake.

    THE FILM RUNS 112 minutes and was shot in New York City and California (Petaluma, Marshall, Nicasio, Lancaster & Inverness). WRITER: James Carabatsos.

    GRADE: B-