Old Men Behaving Badly
Considering that it is now 25 years old Ron Howard's "Cocoon" is still a remarkably good movie which surprisingly hasn't dated too much and still delivers a wonderfully entertaining story that leaves you feeling good. Yes it's an 80s movie with that warm fuzzy factor as it gives us comedy, drama, a nice sentimental message as well as sci-fi all brilliantly delivered by some talented actors such as Don Ameche, Wilford Brimley and Hume Cronyn.
Whilst their increasing years may mean that they have to live in the Sunny Shores retirement home, best friends Ben (Wilford Brimley - The Natural), Art (Don Ameche - Corrina, Corrina) and Joe (Hume Cronyn - *batteries not included) are still sprightly enough to trespass on to an abandoned property to use the swimming pool. Even when they learn that a group of people have rented the house it doesn't stop them and it's when these new people start placing giant rock like cocoons in the pool does it have surprising effects, as it seems this water now has rejuvenating capabilities. All is well until between Ben, Art and Joe discover that these new owners are aliens and their friends at the retirement home become suspicious at how full of life they are.
One of the best things about "Cocoon" is that the storyline manages to blend so many different elements. Firstly you have these old gentlemen and their partners living in a retirement home, yet they are a little mischievous with their semi bawdy banter and daily excursions on to private property. It makes it all quite amusing, but also quite touching as you get the whole not so much waiting to die but accepting advancing years element.
Then there is a more comical side with Steve Guttenberg playing a typical laid back boat captain who takes this group of 4 people out into the middle of the ocean where they retrieve these cocoons. It's typical laid back comedy with Guttenberg flirting with one of them. And adding to the comedy is the rejuvenated old men after having swum in the swimming pool. All of which then combines with the sci-fi side as we discover that these 4 people retrieving rock like cocoons from the sea and placing them in the pool are in fact aliens, Antereans from another planet here to retrieve those aliens who inhabited earth thousands of years ago.
The blend of all of these three elements so that you get sci-fi excitement, amusement from old men behaving badly and then a touch of dramatic sentiment makes it all around entertaining. But at the same time all this fun, excitement and drama poses some subtle questions most significantly about living for ever. In doing so it highlights various repercussions such as the loss of loved ones. But it never feels like it's trying to make a point, it just raises questions, shows some answers whilst still entertaining in one way or another.
What though makes all of this work are all the wonderful old actors such as Jack Gilford, Maureen Stapleton, Jessica Tandy, Gwen Verdon and Herta Ware. But it is the trio of Wilford Brimley, Don Ameche and Hume Cronyn as Ben, Art and Joe which really make it so much fun. There is a real sense of camaraderie between the three characters and actors making them believable but also mischievously good fun when they begin to feel young again. It's no surprise that Don Ameche won the Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his performance in Cocoon because it shows all his skills as an actor.
Aside from these older stars and they really were the stars, there is also Steve Guttenberg as laid back boatman Jack Bonner, a role which allowed Guttenberg to deliver that cheeky, laid back comedy which back in the 80s he did so well. And Tahnee Welch is striking as Kitty one of the alien visitors. Plus of course, as is normal for many of Ron Howard's movies you can spot his brother Clint Howard in the minor role of one of the nurses at the retirement home.
What this all boils down to is that "Cocoon" despite being 25 years old is still a remarkably good movie with it's mix of comedy, sentiment and sci-fi whilst also posing some interesting questions about wanting to live for ever. It's hardly dated at all, with only an incredibly cheesy break dancing scene showing its age and the special effects whilst not amazing are still solid. But it is the performances of all the actors, in particular those of Wilford Brimley, Don Ameche and Hume Cronyn which make both fun and sentimentally good.