Saturday, March 28, 2009

Cocoon (1985) PG-13 ****

A film review by Andre Dursin, April 13, 2010.

Just the other day, I was talking to a friend of mine about how certain films remain in circulation and are still the occasional center of discussion years after their original release. Back to the Future is a case in point -- a movie that came out of nowhere and became the breakthrough hit of the summer of '85, and continues to be an enduring fan favorite.

Trailing behind in box-office dollars, but still one of the highest-grossers of that same year, was CocoonRon Howard's gentle sci-fi fantasy garnered all kinds of critical acclaim and became a financial triumph as well (earning Don Ameche a Best Supporting Actor Oscar in the process), yet some 25-plus years after its original release, Cocoon has become something of a forgotten film. Sure, it's shown on TV from time to time, yet the fact that it took until 2004 for the film to receive a proper DVD release shows you that the movie hasn't remained in the public consciousness, despite the success of Howard as a filmmaker in the years since its debut.

That being said, I found that Cocoon has held up pretty well since its original release. Its heartwarming tale of aliens and Florida retirees managed to cross all demographics, pleasing both adult viewers and younger audiences into genre fantasies of the era. The movie benefits enormously from a cast of Hollywood veterans (Ameche, Hume CronynWilford BrimleyJessica TandyJack Gilford among them), playing those residents of a Florida retirement complex who improbably find themselves rejuvenated, thanks to aliens (Brian DennehyTahnee Welch) who arrive to retrieve the cocoons of their brethren deep on Atlantic Ocean floor with the help of fishing boat captain Steve Guttenberg.

Sure, some of the movie's humor is cliché (not unlike an episode of The Golden Girls), but the performances are still winning across the board, while James Horner's score keeps everything glued together. When the cast and Horner returned for the inevitable (and wholly unnecessary) 1988 flop sequel Cocoon: The Return, the magic was gone, though the goodwill of the performances (sans Dennehy, who only appeared in a brief cameo) managed to make the sequel watchable in spite of its hackneyed script.

Label: sci-fi
Internet Movie Database
RottenTomatoes Averages (critics=62, viewers=62)

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