Being Human

Robin Williams plays five guys named Hector: a cave man, a Roman slave, a medieval wanderer, a Portuguese shipwreck survivor and a landlord from New York. The film spans three continents and umpteen centuries and is a dreary mess. It's too bad, because the talent involved is first-rate. Scottish writer-director Bill Forsyth, who would deserve a place in the movie pantheon if he had done only the masterful Local Hero, had a simple plan: to show that man's vulnerable relationship with love, sex, friends and family doesn't change with time or place.

What a misbegotten muddle. One segment is truncated (the Bronze Age beginning), another drags (the shipwreck). Forsyth's low-key comedy style doesn't suit Williams, who needs to bust loose. Outside of the Roman segment, which features some Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum burlesque, he never gets the chance. Since each bumbling Hector is torn from his home, Forsyth wants to blend humor with pathos. Williams comes closest in the final segment as a divorced dad trying to juggle his demanding job and his neglected kids. But we expect more from Williams and Forsyth than a movie that hectors us to stop and smell the roses.

From The Archives Issue 683: June 2, 1994