Well, Peter Riegert may not be you're friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, but I reckon he'll have to do as a conveniently placed hero. "They make us boss, the devil pays off, and them folks that are real hard up, they get their local hero, somebody with the right style! They get their local hero, somebody with just the right smile!" Forget Bruce Springsteen, or at least his studio stuff (Hey, say what you will, or rather, what you should about his recordings, but he puts on a heck of a live show), because the real '80s rock star who we should be talking about here is Mark Knopfler, and if you're wondering who that is, first off, forget you, and secondly, why, he's a Sultan... he is a Sultan of Swing... who wants his MTV... and scored this film. Yeah, he wasn't exactly pretty enough to make it as a household name of a superstar guitarist, but, as he would put it, "yeah, the boy can play", and with his fingers no less, and can also put together a pretty good film score (I guess you could say that he is "Making Movie Scores"... if you get what I'm referring to), which is good, because not a whole lot of people kept up with him after Dire Straits. I don't know why, because I can't think of anyone else in the band, as awesome as it was, unless, of course, people either forgot his name, due, of course, to his not being pretty enough make it as a household name of a superstar guitarist, or couldn't figure out how to pronounce his name when they tried to ask a clerk for his solo CD. No, he wasn't that unsuccessful as a solo artist, but let us still remember him for his work, even in this film, whose score isn't its only aspect that's enjoyable, even if it can't quite overshadow problems.
Something that I admittedly did not expect from this film was its being as slow as it is, for although I wasn't exactly walking into this British comedy expecting all that much liveliness, and although the final product rarely, if ever blands things up so much that it downright bores, the atmosphere is much too cold much too often, being flavored up by anything from sharp humor to spirited score work, but nonetheless dulled down by its neglect to build up all that much atmospheric momentum. The film limps along, not simply more than I expected, but more than it should, letting your investment slip, time and again, and ultimately proving to be a crushing blow to the enjoyability of this generally decent film, at least when it backs story structuring that is just as limp. It could perhaps be the atmospheric slowness emphasizing lower points in plotting momentum, but whether we're looking at atmospheric issues or issues that were on paper to begin with, this nearly two-hour, kind of minimalist comedy outstays its welcome with excess material that sometimes goes so far as to descend into needless subplots, often comes off as nothing more than filler, and consistently stands as little more than mere fat around the edges that drag out a film that is limp enough in atmosphere. There are enough high points to Bill Forsyth's script for storytelling to not fall too flat, but the final product feels pretty repetitious because of its tendency to drag its feet, both on paper and in directorial execution, and such repetition quickly devolves into aimlessness when all of the slow spells provide you with time to meditate upon how there's really not much to this story. There's certainly enough meat on the bones of this story concept for a reasonable degree of intrigue to be sustained, occasionally augmented by relative heights in spirit, but on the whole, we're looking at a generally do-little plot with limited consequence and a whole lot of room for dragging that this film has no trouble filling. The film has its high points, but between them is a film with only so many flaws, but ones that prove to be potent enough for the final product to slip into bland aimlessness that meanders along, disengaging you enough for memorability in this film to go shaken by underwhelmingness. That being said, while the film is hardly as lively as it could have been, the patient can expect to find a film that is still well-crafted enough to stand firmly secured as decent, with charm, heart and, of course, a pretty soundtrack.
Mark Knopfler's first experiment with film soundtrack composing, this flick boasts a score that isn't terribly spirited, or even all that used, so don't at all go in expecting something as rich as, say, the then-relatively new "Telegraph Road" (I bring that song up, in spite of its typically not being all that talked about, because it is more-or-less amazing), but do expect Knopfler's first venture into the world of film scoring to be a fairly worthwhile one, with a distinct steadier and warmer type of Dire Straits flavor - anchored by Knopfler's tastefully sharp guitar work - that both entertains and adds to the warmly thoughtful heart of this meditative charmer. Knopfler's efforts may sometimes fall into formulaic score sensibilities for the '80s, but on the whole, enough is refreshing about this soundtrack to augment what liveliness there is within this film, whose liveliness must first be established before it can be augmented. Well, sure enough, no matter how much Bill Forsyth's story structuring limps out, when the script picks up, it helps in keeping you going, largely through humor that may sometimes be too dry to be all that especially effective, but is generally very amusing in its marrying relative silliness with wit in order to craft colorful dialogue and visual jokes that range from amusing, to very funny. If nothing else is colorful about Forsyth's script, it is, to a certain degree, the characterization that may be hurt by expository shortcomings throughout the final product, but proves colorful enough for your investment in the characters who drive this film to be attracted, then truly secured by the color within the charismatic portrayals of the characters. Most everyone in this cast charms, to one degree or another, with our leads being particularly charismatic, especially when such charisma bonds through chemistry that helps in giving the film rather human touches that further color up the endearing heart of this film that would still not be what it ultimately is without the efforts of Forsyth, as director. I wish I could say that Forsyth's atmosphere is nearly as lively as it perhaps could have been, because liveliness would have reinforced the kind of entertainment value that could potentially take a very heavy load off of the shoulders of this film, which would not necessarily be truly rewarding with less bland spells, but would certainly take on more of the punch that you still get enough glimpses of to be adequately engaged, as Forsyth, through all of his directorial flaws, goes into this project with palpable inspiration that intensifies the charming aspects - of which there plenty - as endearing and kind of effective. The film stands to entertain, or at least engage more, and would have been as entertaining as it probably should be if more effort was put into liveliness, but when it's all over and done with, the charm and heart of the film endears, while the sharp humor, performances and high points in storytelling help in securing the final product as decent, in spite of its leaving much to be desired.
Bottom line, atmospheric limp spells lay blows to a momentum that is hurt enough by the repetitious dragging that joins with natural shortcomings in story concept to form aimlessness that leaves the final product to meander its way into underwhelmingness, but no further, as there is enough sharpness to Mark Knopfler's score, effectiveness to the humor, and charm the performances, both on and off of the screen, for "Local Hero" to go padded as heavily flawed, but endearing enough to stand as enjoyably decent.
2.5/5 - Fair