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Laramie Movie Scope:
The Postman

An overlong, post-apocalyptic tale of the clueless

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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December 27, 1997 -- Watching "The Postman" filled me with questions, like who in the world was the guy who said, "yeah, we ought to spend $30 million (probably much more) to make this movie." Or was that the question for the guy who bankrolled "Mr. Magoo?" Whoever he was, I'd like to meet this guy. Maybe he's got some money for me.

From start to finish, this film is just plain goofy. It starts off with the premise that shortly after the turn of the next century there's going to be this big social upheaval in which the government of the United States is overthrown after a plague and global climate upheavals end up wiping out a good chunk of human life on earth.

The few left after these multiple catastrophes are cowed into submission by roving bands of armed white supremacists who rule their fiefdoms by force. A lone man comes along to inspire and unite the people and they overthrow the rascals. Sound familiar? It should. You can see the same plot almost any Saturday afternoon or on late night on TV.

Miles and miles of celluloid have been devoted to movies, most of them low-budget "B" films or straight-to-video stuff, featuring the same kind of story. What makes this film different is that while the story is just as bad, this is a big-budget film with a real star, Kevin Costner, heading the cast and directing the film; also the movie is about twice as long as most films of this genre.

Costner plays the reluctant hero, as he did in the disastrous film "Waterworld." An itinerant actor, he is captured by the militia, but escapes. He dons a dead postman's uniform and tries to trade some letters for food in a remote Oregon town. Unwittingly, he inspires a host of imitators, who begin delivering mail to remote communities. In the process they begin to reunite a shattered nation.

This, of course, poses a threat to the militia, who want to preserve the status quo. Eventually, there has to be a showdown. There is also a romance between Costner and Olivia Williams along the way and some interesting scenes of life in the new world.

An unexpected bonus was the soundtrack. There are some good live performances during a town dance and the scenery is quite nice. A young actor named Larenz Tate does a nice job playing a determined postmaster who calls himself Ford Lincoln Mercury because someday he would like to drive a car. The acting, photography, set design, costume design and other production values are quite good. At nearly three hours, though, it is just too long.

This film does have a certain goofy charm, however. In one scene, Costner meets the mayor of "Bridge City," a bunch of people living on a dam, and he recognizes the guy. "You were famous" Costner says to him. The mayor is none other than musician Tom Petty. It kind of makes you want to say, now wait a minute Mr. Postman (sorry, I just couldn't resist). There are a number of careless jokes like this in the movie. You have to marvel at people who can squander money so casually on such a lame product. If Costner doesn't start making better films soon, he too, will become someone who was once famous. This film rates a C-.

Click here for links to places to buy this movie in video and/or DVD format, the soundtrack, books, even used videos, games and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 1997 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)