Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Cocoon (1985)

Seen: On dvd on my tv, rented from Hollywood Express in Cambridge.
95/100 of the Total Sci-Fi List.

So I've been working on this sci-fi watchlist for a long time now, and I'm so close to finishing! But that also means the few I have left are ones I've put off for whatever reason, so there's less likelihood they'll be good. I had some inexplicable bias against Cocoon, I'm not sure why, but it proved completely valid after I actually watched the film. When a group of senior citizens living in a retirement home discover a hidden swimming pool that makes them feel young and energetic, they stumble upon a group of aliens who hang out with Steve Guttenberg. The aliens' intentions are at first unclear but the old fellows believe their magic pool can help save their friend from a terminal disease.

Ok. Blergh. Let's just say Cocoon is somehow one of the longest movies I've ever seen, taking a fairly simple story ("Old people get rejuvenated. Thanks, Aliens.") and just dragggggggged it outttttt until I couldn't believe it wasn't over yet. Seriously the story ends like half an hour before the movie does, it's exhausting to watch. There's barely any story here, and certainly not 117 minutes of it. Yes, the cast is fun, with Don Ameche, Wilford Brimley, and Hume Cronyn pal-ing around and having a grand ole' time as goofy old dudes who like to dance, but that's about the only redeeming feature. Steve Guttenberg's character is completely irrelevant and doesn't fit into the plot at all really, except as an excuse to get Tahnee Welch naked? Whatever dudes. Boring. And the aliens aren't very interesting, just glowy sometimes. And... very Scandinavian-looking.

Total Sci-Fi describes their choice for the 96th best sci-fi movie of all time thusly:

"A life-affirming movie in more ways than one. Cocoon was a rare genre picture to feature interesting, non-stereotypical elderly characters (played by veterans Don Ameche, Wilford Brimley, Hume Croyn, Jessica Tandy), along with Tahnee Welch at her sexiest and Steve Guttenberg at his least annoying, and the film manages to be affectionate without descending too far into sentimentality."

I totally agree that science-fiction doesn't often feature elderly characters in lead roles, and indeed as much as I love the genre it isn't exactly known for its diversity in general. I applaud Cocoon for presenting a positive portrayal of senior citizens, never playing their age for laughs or pity. BUT it's still not a very good movie. It's so fucking cheesy, I couldn't take it, and it tries to be equally funny and dramatic and doesn't adequately achieve either tone. There's old people break-dancing, which is gross. But also old people boning, which is cool. And the entire film is oozing sentimentality no matter what Total Sci-fi says. I'm sure it appeals to a lot of people, but it wasn't my thing.


Pair This Movie With: Ack I don't know. I just wanted to watch a movie that was good after this. So do that.


  1. Yeah, there are many reasons this movie is a punchline. Guttenberg is only the first problem.

  2. Ah yes, the definition of "Needs more time for cinematic archeology". It will happen.