“The Accidental Tourist” won an Academy Award for Best Actress Geena Davis.
Though Lawrence Kasdan has often gravitated towards stories that involved the elements of life affecting closely-knit friends and couples, the writer/director found a more intriguing story in Anne Tyler's best-selling novel about grief, and one man's attempt to live without any surprises – essentially furthering his predictable, safe, but emotionally flat existence.
Though he appears in a recently filmed introduction to the film, Kasdan's most astute comments appear in several vintage promo interviews from 1988, intercut with a few more recent segments in the featurette “It's Like Life.” Kasdan recognized Tyler's character as a man who traveled the world to write books so that frightened souls could visit foreign locales with every step clearly mapped out. No bad cab rides, American food just minutes away, and every hotel room's plotted out to simulate a return visit.
Vintage interviews from Geena Davis and Kathleen Turner are also used in the featurette, though Davis also appears in an extremely thoughtful commentary track. When selected, the player is auto-prompted to each installment, and the scene-specific comments total just under forty minutes of excellent recollections.
Davis describes the nerve-racking audition process, and her usage of the novel as a rich Bible to realize a sympathetic character that could easily have been shaded into a woman with a possessive, stalker-like habits. A great deal of honesty radiates from Davis' voice – she becomes engrossed with the story and characters, with the finale invoking drippy emotions – but certainly her most prescient observations concern meeting Anne Tyler with her cast mates; and the media and industry's weird behaviour, which connected her Oscar nomination to an eventual win in front of an audience of peers.
Fans of the book and film will find the huge gallery of deleted scenes to be a sobering illustration of the creative process in flux. An emotionally complex film by Hollywood standards, headers explain each scene's purpose, and separates which ones were later fused and reshot into singular scenes. The edited material, most without finished sound effects and lacking music, show ideas that never managed to work within the emerging film, including a particularly eerie sequence, where William Hurt ventures to a restaurant at the World Trade Centre after a nasty panic attack.
The only missing voices from the DVD are co-star Hurt (also absent from the vintage interviews), author Anne Tyler, and composer John Williams (who wrote a beautiful theme that unites the film's wounded characters). Warner Bros' have otherwise assembled a fitting tribute to one of Lawrence Kasdan's most accomplished films.
© 2005 Mark R. Hasan