Cocoon | Chicago Reader


Director Ron Howard brings a quality of gentleness and whimsy to the performances, but basically this is a highly calculated project brought in by those two old pros, producers Richard Zanuck and David Brown (Jaws, The Verdict). A group of benign aliens, led by Brian Dennehy, arrives in Florida to rescue some old companions left buried in the ocean floor. Meanwhile, a bevy of codgers from a nearby nursing home (Don Ameche, Wilford Brimley, Hume Cronyn) stumble into the alien camp, where they discover that contact with the visitors provokes a mental and physical rejuvenation. The comedy that results is rather predictable (Ameche learns to break-dance, etc), yet it isn't hard to take until the hyped-up finale, which combines synthetic suspense (an utterly arbitrary high-speed boat chase) and smarmy religiosity (aliens are once again called upon to evoke nostalgic Sunday-school memories of a benevolent God). With a shudder, you realize that the real subject of the film is euthanasia. With Jack Gilford, Steve Guttenberg, Maureen Stapleton, Jessica Tandy, Gwen Verdon, Herta Ware, and Tahnee Welch (1985).

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