Now that my wife is home from school, and off for the next four weeks, we've come up with a way for us to enjoy the same theatrical releases - see them separately. So I went to the Spectrum Theatre, the "art" theater in Albany to see Young@Heart; Carol went on Wednesday. I tend to be immediately suspicious of a movie that uses punctuation other than question marks and exclamation points in the title.
More to the point, I worried about this being one of those "Oh, isn't it cute how the octogenarians are singing Coldplay?" type of films. Largely, it is not. It's primarily about these folks in their 70s, 80s and 90s relating to each other and the music that their 53-year-old musical director is offering them. As someone who sings in a church choir, I know that choirs can be balky when attempting music not in their comfort zone but that ultimately, they tend to appreciate being stretched.
The movie is funny and poignant. A group of elderly people doing the BeeGees' Stayin' Alive, the Clash's Should I Stay or Should I Go or the Talking Heads' Road to Nowhere adds a certain urgency not experienced in the originals.
As of Monday, the movie had a 88% positive score in Rotten Tomatoes. Naturally, I gravitate towards the negative reviews. One writes: "Young@Heart plays like a 100-minute version of one of those 'on the lighter side' news feature segments that end a local newscast." Meh. If that were so - if there was no investment that the audience makes with these performers, then that assessment might be fairly accurate. That it transcends what a positive critic feared would be "dubious and cutesy" that makes it worth recommending. If I did stars, it'd be three and a half out of four. The fact that it takes place around Northampton, Massachusetts, where I've been a number of times, is just a personal bonus. *** Estelle Gtty, best known for Golden Girls, died at the age of 84. By contrast, Bea Arthur, who played her daughter, is 86, as is Betty White; Rue McClanahan is a mere 73. This got me to wonder about, of all things, the Beverly Hillbillies. Irene Ryan, who played Daisy Moses, a/k/a Granny, was born in 1902, while Buddy Ebsen, who played her son-in-law, Jed, was born in 1908. Certainly, this is plausible, if Jed was much older than Granny's late daughter. *** Old fool: The often arrogant Robert Novak> is 77 now; what was his excuse for his foolishness when he was younger?