In form and attitude, "Hero" wants to join the tradition of the amoral screwball farces of the late 1930s and early 1940s, where deception was the order of the day and no one had more scruples than they could afford. Preston Sturges worked this territory extensively (one of his films is even ironically titled "Hail the Conquering Hero"). But this "Hero" feels particularly like the Carole Lombard-starring "Nothing Sacred," written by the impish Ben Hecht, where glib newspapermen turn a young woman thought to be battling a fatal disease into a celebrity before it is discovered that there is nothing wrong with her at all.
Despite its uncertainty, however, "Hero" (rated PG-13) never totally loses its fascination. Its sarcastic examination of the mechanics of hero building and hero worship, and its bemused attitude about how easily we are manipulated by imagery, all give it a certain amount of bite. Its teeth could have been a lot more effective, but we're happy to see that it has any at all. `Hero' [Dustin Hoffman]: [Bernie LaPlante] Geena Davis: Gale Gayley Andy Garcia: John Bubber Joan Cusack: Evelyn [Kevin J. O'Connor] Chucky
PHOTO: COLOR, Andy Garcia, left, Dustin Hoffman in "Hero": A cynical view of heroism, celebrity. / MURRAY CLOSE; PHOTO: [Geena Davis], Dustin Hoffman in "Hero": Despite its uncertainty, film never loses its fascination.