Sunday, May 17, 2009

Forever Young (1992) [PG] ****

Set amid the beautiful scenery of the California coast, north of San Francisco, this is the story of Daniel McCormick (Mel Gibson), an Army Air Corps test pilot who is flight-testing the B-25 Mitchell bomber just before WWII. He's in love with his childhood sweetheart, Helen (Isabel Glasser) but can't bring himself to ask her to marry him. When a nearly fatal accident sends Helen into a coma, Daniel fears he's missed his chance for happiness. Despondent over his loss, he volunteers for a dangerous cryogenics experiment being conducted by his friend Harry Finley (George Wendt).

Fifty-three years later, Daniel is accidentally awakened from his state of suspended animation by ten-year-old Nat Cooper (Elijah Wood) and a friend. Nat and his mother Claire (Jamie Lee Curtis) befriend Daniel and try to help him adjust to life in 1992, but only succeed in making him realize how completely lost and alone he really is. While Daniel searches desperately for his friend Harry, young Nat becomes Daniel's guide to the late 20th century, as well as helping Daniel understand the strength of his undying love for Helen. In exchange, Daniel teaches Nat how to fly a B-25 bomber and gives the youth the confidence to sing to Alice (Veronica Lauren), the object of his preteen affections. 
The only aspect to the film I found puzzling was Daniel's apparent lack of interest in modern aircraft technology, given that he was a test pilot. But it is a minor flaw and easily forgiven. 

This touching movie reaffirms the significance of family and friends, the importance of communicating our deepest feelings to those we love, and the value of treasuring the few years of life on Earth we are given. The screenplay is outstanding, and the acting is excellent. Gibson has terrific chemistry with both Glasser and Curtis. The soundtrack is beautiful with some wonderful Billie Holiday songs.

Additional supporting cast members include: Joe Morton (Dr. Cameron), Nicolas Surovy (John), David Marshall Grant (Lt. Col. Wilcox USAF), Robert Hy Gorman (Felix), Millie Slavin (Susan Finley) and Art LaFleur (Alice's father).

While Warner Brothers Studios released Forever Young years ago as a widescreen laserdisc, the DVD is only available in a full-frame format (4:3 aspect ratio) with mediocre video quality, and a Blu-ray disc has not yet been released. Thankfully, a widescreen HD format version of the film is available on Netflix streaming video and on cable TV premium channels like HBO.

Labels: adventure, comedy, drama, flying, romance, sci-fi, space-time
Internet Movie Database
RottenTomatoes Averages (critics=54, viewers=62)