Youth is definitely wasted on the young, but no matter what the age we’re all still making mistakes. Being re-released on Blu-ray, Cocoon’s heartfelt message is just as strong today as it was in 1985. The film also reminds us of what great things Ron Howard is capable of as a director.
The core of the story centers on a group of senior citizens going through the motions of retired living. Art (Don Ameche), Ben (Wilford Brimley), and Joe (Hume Cronyn) are three friends looking for the few thrills that life has left for them. The biggest thrill is sneaking off from the old folks home to swim in an abandoned pool.
The second half of the story belongs to an actor that was once a big name in the 80’s, Steve Guttenberg. Guttenberg plays Jack Bonner, a fishing guide down on his luck, until a new set of clients need his assistance. The leader of the group Walter (Brian Dennehy) informs Jack that he and his team need to rent the boat for 26 days. Both of our stories crossover when Walter and the team decide to also rent the property with the abandoned pool. However, they aren’t using the pool to have a leisurely swim, it’s a place to drop some pretty huge rocks…
That pool with rocks in it becomes something of a fountain of youth for the group, and their swimming trips become a necessity. Soon enough, the guys are strutting their stuff, causing a stir amongst the other residents of the retirement home. Joe, who was once stricken with cancer, is now in a complete remission because of the pool. Hume Cronyn delivers a performance in the film that shines the most. While Don Ameche did take home the Oscar back in ’86 for best supporting actor, it should have went to Cronyn. In fact, the dynamic that Ameche, Cronyn, and Brimley create could reflect a group of guys in there 20’s.
While one side of the story charms, the other is just downright awkward at times. Guttenberg is good at portraying the lovable goof, but not much else. When he finds out that the team he’s helping is basically a group of alien beings, stuff starts to get weird. Jack is attracted to the only female of the group, Kitty (Tahnee Welch). At first she is hesitant about doing anything with him, after all he is a different species. Later on she opens up and shows him affection in a way that is truly laughable.
Again for it being 1985, Ron Howard does great things with the film for that time. Hell, the movie also won the best visual effects Oscar. It’s great to see such a touching project from Howard. Lately with films like The Da Vinci Code, you start to wonder when Howard will go back to the meaningful dramas. To me, that’s what the guy is really golden at.
It’s hard to give a short review for a film like Cocoon. There’s one half that is a timeless story and the other that could use a bit sprucing up. Regardless, the film still tugs at your heartstrings. It teaches us that maybe the young really take what they are given for granted. In another 25 years, this film will stand the test of time and people will still be looking for the fountain of youth.
Video: For awhile the quality was great, then when I started getting towards the end it became grainy in certain scenes.
Audio: The audio was fair. I had to crank my television up to hear some parts. Then at times it was so terribly loud I thought my speakers were going to explode.
Commentary with Ron Howard: The commentary here is solid. I enjoyed listening to Howard throughout. Then again, I’d listen to him read the phonebook.
Behind-The-Scenes (6:56): It’s a relatively short look behind the scenes but most of the featurettes were filmed 25 years ago. Nonetheless, it’s still interesting to hear the perspective.
Ron Howard Profile (2:34): While not as informative as the commentary, my favorite part has to be seeing how dorky Howard was back in 1985. Not much has changed.
Underwater Training (3:35): Honestly, this is a lot like an outdated video you might have watched at work or at school. The feature takes you through dive training and Steve Guttenberg talking dolphins.
Actors (2:52): Here you get the old vs. new dynamic, this includes the actors as well as Howard as the director. It’s great to see some of the older actors discuss their experiences with one another.
Creating Antareans (3:56): This tells you more about the Antareans, the alien group that rents Jack’s boat. The only disappointing fact was that they didn’t get more into the effects side of the creation.
Theatrical Teaser, theatrical trailer, 3 TV Spots, Cocoon: The Return Theatrical Teaser