"Cocoon" DVD, Blu-ray Movie Review

4/14/2010 Posted by Admin

DVD, Blu-ray Movie Review


Directed by Ron Howard, Written by Tom Benedek, 117 Minutes, Rated PG-13

By our guest blogger, Rob Stammitti

"Cocoon," like a lot of other films directed by Ron Howard, is often pretty meandering and inconsequential, but unlike other Ron Howard films, it's really a good bit of fun.

The film follows a few separate stories that intersect here and there. One follows a group of extraterrestrials called Antareans (their leader is played by Brian Dennehy) returning to our planet after thousands of years absent to bring back some of the folks they left behind. They rent a boat captained by Jack (Steve Guttenberg), who believes they're on a simple archaeological expedition. Meanwhile, three elderly men, Ben, Joe and Arthur (Wilford Brimley, Hume Cronyn and Don Ameche, who won an Academy Award for his performance) trespass onto the property the Antareans are using and start swimming in the pool they've energized to hold their cocooned brethren. The power of the pool acts as a sort of fountain of youth for the men and they come into some conflict with the Antareans and with other people at their nursing home when they start taking advantage of it.

The film is driven almost entirely by its excellent performances. Even when very little is going on and the film just sort of wanders through its light plot, there's always entertainment in the smart banter between the three leads and the other characters at the old folks home. Guttenberg, a total '80s staple if there ever was one, is used pretty much just to take a break from the elderly characters every so often. He does his job well enough. Dennehy brings a lot of grace and nuance to what could've been a very obvious and cliched role. He's soft-spoken but powerful when need be.

Unfortunately, everything good about the film is eventually marred to a certain degree by the writing and direction. It's funny that one of the film's taglines is "It is nothing you expect," because there's very little in the film that you couldn't figure out from the first 20 minutes or so and as science fiction movies come, you couldn't get more straightforward and traditional than this. Partially, this has to do with the script, which is generally formulaic and sub-par and only works because of the performances. But Ron Howard's direction tends to be a tad on the dull side, even in stuff that could be very stylish like this, so that doesn't help matters either. Nor does the fact that "Cocoon" is a product of the '80s, so all of the synthesized music and occasionally goofy fashion rings a bit false now. But that can hardly be blamed on the film, I suppose, even the best stuff to come out of the '80s suffers from that sort of thing.

It's a simple affair, and it's far from perfect, but "Cocoon" is probably one of the most outright fun Ron Howard films out there, and despite having very little going on thematically, it's a pretty sweet film about coping with age and mortality. Not a bad way to spend some time.

Grade: C+

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