The Mill Creek Entertainment April 7, 2020 Blu-ray release of the 1977 Henry Winkler, Sally Field, and Harrison Ford comedy "Heroes" is an awesome reminder of the gritty socially conscious films of that era. This release also is part of the MCE April 2020 leitmotif of teen idol TV stars films; the soon-to-be-reviewed "Eddie Macon's Run" starring John Schneider of "The Dukes of Hazzard" is another example.
Winkler, who always will be best known for playing Fonzie on the '70s sitcom set in the '50s "Happy Days," puts his Yale drama school education to good use as excitable Vietnam vet Jack Dunne. One of his best scenes in a movie full of notable moments comes at the very beginning; he outrageously disrupts a sales pitch at an Army recruiting center.
This exploit lands Dunne back in a VA hospital, where he is the Fonzie-caliber leader of his ward. This hospital stay getting cut short with a little help from his friends fully sets the film in motion; it also sets the stage for both arguably the most charming "prison break" and ensuing pursuit in film history.
A series of not-so-unfortunate circumstances leads to Dunne befriending runaway almost-bride Carol Bell; Field plays Bell essentially in the same manner that she portrays runaway bride Carrie in "Smokey and the Bandit" (1977).
Carol is headed to Kansas City to get away in the days before her wedding; Dunne is going in that direction to be part of the big worm rush in California. It is unknown if he plans to raise red wigglers, which are the Cadillac of worms.
The first leg of this journey gives Winkler a chance to shine in his good-natured harassment of their bus driver, who represents a typical authority figure on an ego trip. (Think Fonzie v. Officer Kirk.) The mutual open animosity between the two men is another "Heroes" highlight.
The aforementioned circumstances lead to Dunne and Bell taking to the open road and showing up at the dirt farm of Dunne's Army buddy Ken Boyd (Ford). Ford awesomely plays Boyd as a redneck Han Solo; Field makes a perfect princess for him, and Winkler nicely fills the role of emo sidekick.
The circumstances this time are less fortunate than the ones that set the stage for when Henry met Sally; Dunne is a last-minute replacement for Boyd in a race. This leads to the very "Smokey" development of Dunne and Bell using the muscle car of Boyd for the next leg of their journey; "Smokey" pulling them over in the wake of the vehicle taking the brunt of the injury in a bar brawl is another scene that makes "Heroes" '70stastic.
The subsequent adventures, including the obligatory trial-and-error separation, lead to arriving in California. This leads to a rude awakening in the form of highly distressing news for Dunne that provides Winkler one more chance to shine.
The bottom line is that "Heroes" earns the cliched praise that it deftly combines drama and comedy; the bigger picture is that the trauma of the actual wars in the decades following Vietnam and the intense stress of living through COVID-19 make this tale of a likable guy cracking under the strain and being desperate to live out his dream relatable. This is especially so ahead of your not-so-humble reviewer driving three-hours round trip solely to get a haircut two months after his last one.