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Harry and Tonto

1 rating: 3.0
A movie directed by Paul Mazursky

In 1974, the Oscar nominees for Best Actor included Jack Nicholson (Chinatown), Al Pacino (Godfather Part II), and Dustin Hoffman (Lenny). And the winner? Art Carney for this Paul Mazursky comedy about a retired schoolteacher evicted from his apartment … see full wiki

Tags: Movies
Director: Paul Mazursky
1 review about Harry and Tonto

Just A Man Named Harry and His Cat Named Tonto

  • Sep 29, 2007
"Harry & Tonto" is unlike any movie you are going to see. I know, people say that a lot, but this is one of the few times that statement is true. This movie was made in 1974, but it feels more fresh today then most of the movies released in 2002. Rarely is there a time when odd-ball comedies work, and even rarer are the times they work on a deeper level then you expect them to. "Harry & Tonto" is such a film that starts out as, of all things, a road trip movie, but ends with an examination of the human soul. The movie revolves around Harry Coombes (Art Carney in an Oscar winning role), a lonely man whose wife has died and children moved away. Harry lives a quiet life in his apartment with his best friend, an orange tabby cat named Tonto. This is the life Harry lives until he is forced out of his apartment, which is set to be torn down and turned into a parking lot.

Harry's son invites him to stay with his family, but a few days living with his sons family shows that they are crowded enough as it is. Sizing up the situation, Harry grabs Tonto and the two set out on a trip across the country. On bus, through hitchhiking, and even by foot, these two make their way from one town to another, not really sure where they will end up but determined to savor the journey. As you might expect, Harry runs into several eccentric people along his way, but they are not as stereotypical as they might sound. There's an Indian doctor, a hooker, a teenager who ran away from home, characters that are all ripe to be used as colorful cliches, and yet the movie gives these characters real feelings and real personalities. Harry talks with these people and gives them fatherly advice, while admitting that he's not sure whether his advice fits in with the world anymore.

In one brilliant scene, Harry is talking with a run away teenager. The teenager shares her problems and Harry muses "I guess I just don't know what it's like to be a teenager these days." The girl looks at him, looks out the window and replies "neither do I." I never expected a movie about an old man and his cat to be so deep in it's conversations. The acting is universally excellent. People discuss their hopes, dreams, and fears with such delegacy that you get to know them as people, not characters. One great conversation between Harry and his best friend involves both of them talking about their past, how much the world has changed, and how much do they really have left to live for. A few days later Harry's friend dies, and in Harry's face you can see that a piece of who he is has gone with him.

But this is not a downer of a movie by any means. In fact, this is a very uplifting movie in many regards. There are regrets in life, and there are things we are not proud of, but does life ever truly end? Getting thrown out of his apartment was the best thing to happen to Harry. That stupid lady at the airport who wouldn't let Tonto on the plane was also a blessing, because had the two flown to their destination then they would have missed the journey. As Harry makes this journey he discovers that even though he is 72 years old, there is still plenty of life out there to live and many sights to be seen. I guess I should make a note that Harry's relationship with Tonto is no mere gimmick, as there is a real bond there that comes with being together for many years. An uplifting film, a heartbreaking film, and a funny film, "Henry & Tonto" is one of a kind.

Rating: **** stars

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