February 14, 1992 at 05:00 AM EST

He made his name writing big toys like The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and Raiders of the Lost Ark. As a director, though, Lawrence Kasdan is one of the few of his Hollywood generation to probe adult topics. Here’s his video curriculum vitae.

Body Heat (1981)
His directorial debut starts out as a coffee-table homage to film noir and as such, mere genre fetishism. What brings the movie into its own is Kasdan’s faith in actors. Kathleen Turner as a hot, conniving spider and William Hurt as her gullible fly flesh out their characters with a rueful complexity. B+

The Big Chill (1983)
This movie has a lot to be accountable for: It focused on the navel-gazing proclivities of the ’60s generation as it entered the 1980s. It lifted entire scenes from John Sayles’ low-budget The Return of the Secaucus Seven. And it left Kevin Costner on the cutting-room floor. The powerhouse cast — including Kevin Kline, Hurt, and Glenn Close — makes —Chill good, glib entertainment, but no way is it the penetrating social portrait Kasdan seems to think. We’ve had to wait for Grand Canyon — flaws and all — for that. B+

Silverado (1985)
Dismissed by critics, Silverado now looks like Hollywood neoclassicism at its finest: a Western that wants to be all things to all audiences and, miraculously, pulls it off. Kasdan made amends to Kevin Costner by giving him a hell-raising role that forced Hollywood to take him seriously, and Kline, Danny Glover, Brian Dennehy, and John Cleese all invest their stock roles with modern wit. A

The Accidental Tourist (1988)
Following the populism of Silverado, this movie seems almost defiantly eggheaded: a wistful, low-key examination of a withdrawn travel writer (Hurt) who becomes even more distant in the wake of his son’s death. Adapted from Ann Tyler’s novel, the movie won Geena Davis a Best Supporting Actress Oscar as the goofball who warms Hurt’s chilly soul. Surprisingly affecting, The Accidental Tourist is as delicate and complex as hand-spun glass. B+

I Love You To Death (1990)
After the finely tuned emotions of Tourist, who can blame Kasdan for inviting all his pals over for a loosey-goosey blowout? This farce about a philandering pizza-shop proprietor (Kline) and the mousy wife (Tracey Ullman) who tries to do him in plays like an outrageous shaggy- dog story. William Hurt and Keanu Reeves are almost unrecognizable as burned-out hit men, and even respected British stage actress Joan Plowright (Olivier’s widow, for God’s sake) gets into the fun. It’s an intentional mess, but most unintentional messes aren’t half this enjoyable. B-

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