The Hero (R)

Drama 93 min. June 9, 2017
By Alan Scherstuhl
It's only after three encounters, a night on molly, a blow-up argument, an impassioned recitation of Edna St. Vincent Millay's "First Fig," and some tender May-December -- late December -- sex that Sam Elliott's The Hero character can be bothered to ask what Laura Prepon's does for a living. Turns out she's a comedian, which means the plot of this latest maudlin study of a magnetic old fellow will concern his learning to accept that she's going to joke onstage about his septuagenarian balls. Learning to Accept could be the title of most of the films in this genre: Like Robert De Niro in The Comedian or Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart, Elliott plays an old salt out of time, alienated from his family, cranky and clueless about the world he's had the good fortune to thrive in.

Eventually, after the first act's almost ritualized humiliations, he gets promisingly laid and learns life is worth living even if everything's not as it once was. After some sex and some shame, the brat will by the end make a concession toward being a better person. Essentially, these movies are old-dude versions of Girls.

Elliott plays a beloved film star, and he remains the prototypical easygoing real-man charmer, so his hooking up with a beauty so many decades younger than him is at least plausible. Both performers prove more interesting than their material, and when the script flags at least viewers have time to regard four of the most fascinating eyebrows Hollywood has to offer. Nick Offerman is woozily funny as the hero's drug dealer, and Elliott still speaks the way Monument Valley would if it could.
Brett Haley Krysten Ritter, Laura Prepon, Sam Elliott, Nick Offerman, Katharine Ross, Mei Melançon Marc Basch, Brett Haley The Orchard

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