When a group of octogenarians steal into a private swimming pool, they happen upon a recent store of alien cocoons, and gain a new lease of life. But when the aliens discover their eggs sapped of life power, the elderly bunch elect to help them to retrieve the ancient batch from the bottom of the ocean.
Imagine ET’s genial alien ethos hooked up with the evident, if sappy, comedy of a coterie of Floridian retirees rejuvenated to youthful bluster, as directed by the audience pleasing, if sappy, tendencies of Ron Howard — who was clearly on a fairy-tale jag having only just delivered a major hit with mermaid comedy Splash. How you react to the sum total of that equation — nausea, mild discomfort or an easy smile of acceptance (some movies are just entertainment after all) — should warn you how to approach this broad, effective, but nailed on sentimental load of sprightly old tosh. That said, this is a positive review.
To start with, it’s not often a team of actors on the wrinklier side get to be the heart of a movie, and that those actors — Don Ameche the stand-out was granted an Oscar for his generous, detailed performance — manage to whittle out the knowing humour as well as the japery from the set-up. The gag, away from the film’s elaborate hokey sci-fi set-up (Atlantean aliens in the guise of Brian Denehy come back to retrieve a batch of cocoons stored for a millennia at the bottom of the ocean) is that old-folk regain youthful vigour. Cue: sporting prowess and renewed sexual appetites. It’s obvious silliness, but they give it a rarefied dignity; the entire film operating as a give-OAPs-a-chance campaign call.
Steve Guttenberg, as the friendly face of the pre-30 age bracket, helps the aged and the alien alike, and gets it on with a female ET (embodied by Tahnee Welch, Raquel’s daughter) in a major piece of tantric style shagging. And it all revs up with a race-against-time style ending, with some fancy UFO effects and the offer of eternal life albeit on a planet far weirder than Florida. Howard, as a director, is astute enough to concentrate on the sparkle of character than the nerdy fabric of alien landings, his film far more a comedy parable than a sci-fi adventure.
The sugar level is positively diabetic, but the whole aura of warmth and cuddliness is hard to resist.