Saturday, May 23, 2009

Cocoon


Cocoon; Science-fiction tragicomedy, USA, 1985; D: Ron Howard, S: Hume Cronyn, Wilford Brimley, Don Ameche, Brian Dennehy, Steve Guttenberg, Jack Gilford, Maureen Stapleton, Jessica Tandy

Flordia. Since the retirement home is a boring place, the three retired friends Arthur, Ben and Joe sneak to a closed estate to have a swim in a pool. When aliens disguised as people, led by Walter, hire a boat owner Jack and pick up cocoon's from the sea - in reality their friends who stayed behind on Earth after Atlantis sank - they place the cocoons in the pool, which actually gives the three seniors new vitality. Joe even wins the battle with cancer. When the seniors discover that Walter is an alien, he offers to take them with him to his planet where they could continue to live. They accept and are picked up by the alien spaceship.

"Cocoon" is a melancholic ode to enjoying life even at old age, and for a mainstream film the producers took a lot of courage when they chose to finance it since it touches the topic of lives of old people, one of the rarely talked topics in cinema. And that's one of the reasons why this isn't an average 'run-of-the-mill' feel-good flick, but actually contains a real, bitter-sweet tone. Director Ron Howard never mocks his characters, but always gives them dignity, even in such situations when young people are calling them "grandpa" or giving them signals that they are not enjoying their company, which says a few valuable messages about ageism. The story has a good flow, mostly gaining its virtues from humor, like in the scene where Arthur, Ben and Joe are suddenly feeling new vitality after they swam in the pool with the cocoons and jokingly say: "Maybe they put cocaine in the water", while all the actors did a good performance, especially Wildford Brimley - it is obvious that Don Ameche's Oscar for best supporting actor category was a 'career award', not the fact that he was really the best supporting actor in 1985, but his performance was more than solid. Too sentimental, towards the end almost chaotic, the film also suffers from the alien subplot which seems deformed at moments (their design where they glow is great, but haunting) that reduce its dimension.

Grade:++

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