'Cocoon' [Blu ray]
(Don Ameche, Wilford Brimley, et al / Blu ray / PG-13 / (1985) 2010 / 20th Century Fox)
Overview: An offbeat and charming comedy with elements of science fiction thrown in, director Ron Howard's (Ransom, Apollo 13) unlikely fantasy ponders the price of immortality and the power of everlasting love.
Blu ray: "Cocoon" is a good Sunday afternoon, put-your-feet-up-and-sit-back type of film. Nothing more, nothing less. It's real old fashioned entertainment. And while I like this film, I really am surprised just how revered it is. Some call it a "classic" which really is stretching things just a tad. Not to rain on anyone's parade, but having just watched this film again, after not having seen it since it originally came out, I was struck by just how under-developed the whole film was. The focus of the film is (deservedly so) on the elderly characters who get a new shot at life, so to speak. This then relegates the rest of the characters to nothing more than background dressing. Perhaps there were a few scenes (reels, maybe?) that were cut from the film or just not filmed. And yes, I know that a lot of people will decry my review as being "ageist" -- however, this being a sci-fi film, one would think that the alien angle would have been beefed up a bit more.
As it stands, the revelation of the alien's identities and intentions are so conveniently and expediently accepted by the characters that one would presume the aliens are capable of mind-control; however that would be to introduce a sinister underpinning to the film and that sort of complexity would have gone against what Ron Howard was trying to convey. I would assume that Ron Howard just didn't have a strong handle on the material, nor a clear vision of exactly what he wanted to convey with the story. I personally felt that Wilford Brimley's decision to go away with the aliens was terribly insensitive to his grand-son's needs, not to mention unrealistic. I know it's "only a movie" but some kind of wisdom (in keeping with the older makes wiser notion, if nothing else) would have made for a stronger conclusion.
Steve Guttenberg's character was completely under-developed, apart from playing boat captain, then peeping tom, then fodder for the token alien-human love scene. The same for the alien characters. I mean, casting Brian Dennehy and then not utilising his talents is like casting Robert De Niro in the role of Darth Vader and not using his voice either!
There are a lot of aspects (characters and situations) that Ron Howard had to juggle with this film, and once again, it comes down to his handling of the material that impedes the film. The inclusion of Guttenberg's and Tahnee Welch's love interest is obviously in catering to a younger demographic, and really wasn't necessary. It plays out as tacked on and not realistic or natural. More screen time and development of these two characters would have served the film better and made the love scene less intrusive and more necessary to the plot.
Overall, this movie is a good movie, very entertaining and it is great to see some veteran older actors/actresses getting their due, however, it's just not a true cinema classic. I would suggest that anyone wanting to see a film concerning old people that most definitely IS a classic, do yourself a favour and buy David Lynch's "The Straight Story" one of the warmest, sincerest and original films ever conceived. And don't let the fact that David Lynch directed it put you off. If you only think Lynch is capable of producing "weird for weird sake" type films (and I love Lynch's work), then allow "The Straight Story" (and yes, the title is meant to be somewhat ironic) to dispell those preconceptions. [MC] This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Commentary by director Ron Howard
Ron Howard Profile
Cocoon: The Return Theatrical Teaser