Sam Elliott has given many memorable performances, including his in “The Big Lebowski” and “I’ll See You in My Dreams,” and “The Hero” continues his legacy. This is one of his absolute best performances.
He plays Lee Hayden, “a sad, old pothead,” who was one of the biggest Western movie heroes of the 70s and 80s. He is looking for more movies, but for now, he is recording voices for barbecue sauce commercials. He becomes diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and is unprepared to tell his friends and family, so he tells them he is making a movie.
He doesn’t make this movie, but we do see his dreams of how his western turns out. He begins a relationship with a woman half his age-a stand-up comic named Charlotte (Laura Prepon), who refuses to tell him her age.
Lee is also set to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award, and ends up giving his award to a woman named Diane (Patrika Darbo). Therefore, he becomes an internet sensation, and is finally given a screenplay for a Sci-Fi Western. Of course, his disease ends up affecting him.
“The Hero” could have been better. How? By possessing the same humorous and dramatic mix of “I’ll See You in My Dreams,” and both these films were written and directed by the same man Brett Haley.
But it does distinguish Elliott as a memorable but emotional actor. You also get a fresh supporting cast, including Prepon in her best role since “That 70s Show,” Krysten Ritter as Lee’s estranged daughter, Nick Offerman as Lee’s former co-star-now-turned-pot-dealer, and Katharine Ross (Elliott’s wife) as his ex-wife.
You’re sitting in your seat feeling sorry for Lee, because of his cancer, his career, and communication with his daughter. And you’re also amazed at the images, scenery, and depth the movie offers.