Gibson is Still Young at Heart
"Forever Young" is what it is a mildly entertaining movie which aims to combine a sentimental love story with a touch of comedy and trading on the star status of Mel Gibson to carry it. But in aiming to combine these two different elements and the reliance on Mel Gibson it never really knows what it is trying to be almost floating between the romance and comedy but never delivering anything of real substance. As is often the case "Forever Young" is not a terrible movie, quite pleasant in an easy viewing manner but just not overly memorable for anything in particular and although it also tries to deliver a semi message about seizing the day, well it never achieves it.
It's 1939 and Daniel McCormick (Mel Gibson - Lethal Weapon 3) appears to have everything, an exciting job as a test pilot and a beautiful girlfriend, Helen (Isabel Glasser), who he plans to marry. But when Helen is left in a coma due to an accident Daniel can't deal with watching her die so volunteers to be a human guinea pig for his friends Harry Finley (George Wendt) cryogenics project. 43 years later, Daniel is accidentally unfrozen when two kids mistake the machine he is frozen in as a submarine and so Daniel has to work out what has happened whilst dealing with a vastly different world around him.
The storyline to "Forever Young" itself is frankly very routine as it tries to combine a love story in with that of a man frozen in time, both of which have been done before and I am sure combined in a few movies as well. What this means is "Forever Young" is a two part movie, the first part set at the end of the 1930's revolves around test pilot Daniel's relationship with love of his life Helen and the despair he feels when she is in a serious accident, especially as he was planning to pop the question. It's actually not bad if a little stereotypical when it comes to the romantic side of things and the despair he suffers, causing him to volunteer to be frozen because he can't bare to watch her die, is all a little bit cliche, although nicely done cliche.
The second part of "Forever Young" deals with the issues of having been accidentally frozen for over 40 odd years Daniel is confused by the changed world he wakes up to. Again it's all been done before, with Daniel being a fish out of water with his old fashioned chivalry amongst other things at odds with modern living. It is this side of "Forever Young" which plays it more for laughs and to be honest whilst most of the laughs reside in the obvious, relying heavily on Mel Gibson to deliver them, they are done reasonably well, sort of restrained so that whilst obvious but not forced.
The combination of the two works but only so far as "Forever Young" never really decides which it wants to be, an emotional and sentimental romance or a fish out of water comedy. But it culminates to deliver quite a charming but yet again obvious ending, especially as for some reason Daniel having been frozen for over 40 years is suddenly cursed by rapid aging, which is not really explained and to be honest doesn't need to be. The aging is a nice touch, and the make up departments work to age Mel Gibson is pretty effective.
But whilst all of this is nice, what is really missing is a sense of tension as Daniel tries to find out what happened to him whilst suddenly dealing with the advanced aging. Where it needed to be exciting it lacked the oomph to make you really feel for Daniel in the situation, which is in many ways the fault of it sitting on the fence between being a romantic drama and a comedy.
Whilst the storyline for the most floats, Mel Gibson does put in a performance full of charm as test pilot Daniel looking the part as the dashing young thrill seeker as he nearly crashes a plane whilst also looking like a grand dad you would want when the aging process starts to take hold. In between this you also get Mel Gibson's flirtatious charm as well as a nice line of comedy, the sort of stuff he does in many a movie. Alongside Gibson is a young Elijah Wood playing the sort of role he inhabited in his early career, the sweet kid who grows fond of Daniel seeing him a bit like a father. Plus there is also Jamie Lee Curtis who whilst plays quite a generic character as a single mother has some quite tender scenes with Gibson as his character Daniel is filled with regret.
Elsewhere there is also George Wendt from "Cheers" fame as Daniel's scientist friend during the 1930's and his performance is charming enough although doesn't have the greatest part. Plus there is Isabel Glasser who plays Helen and again it's a nice performance but one which is almost a generic character.
What this all boils down to is that "Forever Young" is a charming movie, but it is also rather average. The combination of the sentimental romantic storyline with that of a man frozen in time is not overly special and as such doesn't deliver anything overly memorable as it flits between emotion and comedy. But it's not a bad thing with a nice performance from Mel Gibson making up for many of the dips when the movie seems to float along doing nothing.