|By Riley McDavid|
Imagine a screenplay about an older chronic complainer with a potty mouth who has never had a good relationship with his daughter and still can’t get along with her in his eighties. Sounds like a real downer, right?
Audiences didn’t think so. The film, On Golden Pond. opened on January 22, 1981, and by the end of the following year it had grossed just shy of $120 million. Henry Fonda and Katharine Hepburn won Oscars for Best Actor and Best Actress, and Ernest Thompson’s script won an Oscar for Best Screenplay Adapted from Another Medium. The movie was nominated for seven other Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Cinematography.
The filmmakers knew that old age, properly portrayed by great talent, would sell, and it still does today. I don’t know if it’s a trend (I hope it is) but two current films about senior citizens are doing quite well at the box office.
Exhibit A is Robot and Frank, which Mrs. McD and I saw a few days ago, and which takes place “in the near future.” The plot (I’m not giving away anything you wouldn’t know from seeing the trailer) involves a retiree with a Noo Yawk attitude and a few memory problems. The main character, Frank, is not your customary senior citizen — back in his working days he was a cat burglar.
Frank Langella, who in my opinion doesn’t know how to make a bad movie, plays Frank, and Susan Sarandon plays his acquaintance, the local librarian. Frank has two adult children, Madison (Liv Tyler), and Hunter (James Marsden). whose relationships with Frank and with each other are prickly at best.
Hunter worries about his dad’s ability to care for himself, but rather than getting him Meals on Wheels or enrolling him in a senior center program, he buys him a walking, talking robot. (Remember this is in the near future.) This ultimate household appliance can cook, clean his messy house, go on walks with him, and generally get Frank engaged in activities that Hunter thinks will improve his memory.
Frank despises the robot and wants Hunter to get rid of it. Then one day he realizes he can use it to get back into the cat burglar business with little fear of being caught. Suddenly the robot is his best buddy.
unter worries about his daHu
The plot continues along this comedic course until — well I can’t tell you more without ruining the movie for you. Maybe some astute filmgoers smelled out the surprise ending, but Mrs McD and I sure didn’t. It’s a clever film that cons you into thinking it’s about one thing, but turns out to be about something altogether different and more meaningful.
“Have you noticed?” Mrs. McD said as we drove away from the theater after the movie. “They’re making more movies about us these days.”
“Us?” I said.
“Geezers,” she replied. “Remember Marigold?” She was referring to The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, a film we had seen several months ago, and which is Exhibit B.
In Marigold, seven British retirees decide, in the words of one reviewer, “to outsource their retirement.” Short of funds to sustain a retirement in their homeland, they travel to Jaipur, India, attracted by a colorful brochure for the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which claims to be a luxurious destination “for the elderly and the beautiful.” When they arrive, however, they soon find out that the young hotel owner (Dev Patel) is apparently much better at Photoshop than at resort management. The place bears only a faint and unfavorable resemblance to the pictures in the brochure.
When they complain, Patel tells them, “Everything will be all right in the end. If it’s not all right, then it’s not the end.”
The film is a number of intertwined ever-so-human stories. Its cast is populated with some of the finest actors in cinema— Judy Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith and more. John Madden — the British director, not the American football coach — directed the film. (He also directed Judy Dench as Queen Elizabeth I in Shakespeare in Love for which she won an Oscar even though she was on screen for only about eight minutes.)
We saw Marigold with a packed house at a senior matinee. I don’t know what other age groups thought of it, but the people at our showing gave it rousing applause at the end.
I believe it’s only in one theater locally now, but next Tuesday, September 18, the DVD will be released.
Next on the Age Well Calendar
The Aging in Place Summit “Don’t just survive —Thrive!” presented by Age Well Senior Services and South Shores Church
Date: October 23 from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Featured Speakers & Topics: Details will be in the next blog the week of September 24.
Location: South Shores Church: 32712 Crown Valley Parkway, Monarch Beach. Admission is free.
For more information: Call Danielle Dale at Age Well, (949) 855-8033, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
23rd Annual Seniors Prom benefiting Meals on Wheels and Honoring our Veterans.
Date: November 4 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Includes Buffet Dinner and features music by Johnny Vana’s Big Band Alumni with special guests The 40’s Fly Girls. Tickets are $40 pre-sale and $45 at the door. Pre-Sale tickets available through Friday, October 26, 2012 at south Orange County Senior Centers and at Age Well Senior Services.