Cocoon (1985)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Cocoon</strong> (1985)

(Second Viewing, On Cable TV, January 2019) I remember seeing Cocoon as a kid, but considering the film’s themes of aging it’s very different to see it as a middle-aged adult. (There’s one shot in the film, in which “human skins” are discarded and thrown to the floor by the alien characters, that seriously freaked me out when I was younger.) Efficiently directed by Ron Howard, this is a clever blend of SF, romance and comedy as retirement-aged characters discover alien eggs and the rejuvenating effects of the pool in which they’re stored. Of course, the aliens are there for a reason and their minders have good reason to be concerned. The script cleanly moves between one mode to the other, gradually making its way to a sentimental action-driven finale. There’s a tremendous amount of irony and foreshadowing in Cocoon’s early lines, showing the craft in the script. This probably remains the best film in which Steve Gutenberg ever starred, although his acting simply can’t reassure up to the impressive elderly ensemble cast assembled in between Don Ameche, Wilford Brimley, Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy and others. Now that the baby boomers are taking over retirement homes, I expect the film to undergo a modest rediscovery as its themes of eternal youth directly addresses them. For younger viewers, Cocoon can occasionally be a meditation on growing old (and what people would do if there was an alternative), although it doesn’t forget to leaven the meditation with genre elements and comedy.

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