Reviewed by: Brett Willis
What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer
ANXIETY ATTACK, worry and fear—What does the Bible say? Answer
NUDITY—Why are humans supposed to wear clothes? Answer
Should I save sex for marriage? Answer
How can I deal with temptations? Answer
How far is too far? What are the guidelines for dating relationships? Answer
What are the consequences of sexual immorality? Answer
|Featuring:||Jack Nicholson, Diane Keaton, Keanu Reeves, Frances McDormand, Amanda Peet, Jon Favreau, Paul Michael Glaser, more »|
|Producer:||Columbia Pictures Corporation, Warner Bros. Pictures, Waverly Films, Bruce A. Block, Suzanne Farwell, Nancy Meyers|
This is an unusual Holiday release. Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton are paired off in a very talky and introspective comedy, playing revised versions of characters they’re done before. Since the two leads and Frances McDormand are all Oscar winners (Nicholson has twelve nominations and three wins), someone obviously sank a lot of money into this film. The plot reeks of political correctness with just enough outrageousness to grab fringe viewers.
In the opening scenes, the viewer is “forced” to ogle a parade of beautiful young women while a voiceover by Harry Sanborn (Nicholson) explains that he knows a lot about young women because he’s been dating them for forty years. Harry and his latest trophy girlfriend Marin (Amanda Peet) head out to her mom’s oceanfront getaway for a weekend of meaningless sex (she begins undressing even before they’re in the door). But her mom Erica Barry (Keaton) and her Aunt Zoe (McDormand) show up there also. Majorly awkward.
Eventually it’s decided that since they’re all sensible adults (meaning either that they approve of meaningless sex, or at least that they don’t tell other people how to run their lives), all four will stay the weekend. But while Harry and Marin are “gearing up” in the bedroom, he suffers a heart attack. The E.R. physician, Dr. Julian Mercer (Keanu Reeves), decides that Harry is too sick for the return trip to New York; so he ends up back at the beachhouse, alone with Erica, while he convalesces.
The two can’t stand each other at first; but in the near proximity, something strange begins to happen. The sixty-three-year-old Harry, who’s never married, never been in love and never dated a woman over thirty, finds his life changed in the aftermath of his heart attack. He’s attracted to Erica. And although Erica and Zoe had (correctly) pegged him as a disgusting in his disregard for women, he does show a sensitive streak at the oddest times. Erica is attracted to him as well.
This new experience scares Harry, since he’s on unfamiliar territory. His instinct is to back away. But Dr. Mercer, though much younger than Erica, is interested in her too. Does the Doctor see something that Harry doesn’t? Should Harry make an effort to see it, before his chance is gone?
Profanity—This film escaped with a PG-13 rating under the “new rules.” However, it contains about forty profanities including two or more uses of f*, other sexual slang, and a lot of curses and “Oh, my God” type exclamations.
Sex and Nudity—Erica and Marin are both seen in their underwear. In one sequence Erica is seen full frontal nude, except she holds her hand in front of her crotch. In the post-heart-attack sequence, there are several glimpses of Harry’s bare behind hanging out the back of a hospital gown. And when Erica (a playwright) pens and produces a play based on her experiences with Harry, there’s a scene where a whole chorus line of old guys in hospital gowns show off their special-effects bare behinds.
Harry has a foreplay scene with Marin, and a non-explicit sex scene with Erica in which she hands him a scissors and demands that he cut away her turtleneck sweater. Just as Harry’s repeated heart pains are symbolic of his unfulfilled state of not being in love, the scissors scene represents Erica being “cured” of her “repression.” And once “cured,” it’s fairly obvious that Erica also has sex with Dr. Mercer.
There are several instances of brief breast—or buttock-fondling. Also, miscellaneous suggestive scenes, such as Harry licking an ice cream cone while admiring Marin’s behind. Also, numerous jokes and gags about Viagra and middle-aged sex.
The upside of the overall plot is the message that it’s possible for people in their fifties and sixties to have a meaningful relationship (and that it’s actually a beautiful enough thing for Hollywood to put onto the screen once in a great while). The downside is that we first have to see those older folks acting just as irresponsibly as the younger set: having casual sex first, and then trying to make sense of it after the fact.
Worldview—Harry states (correctly) that it’s not realistic to expect to be “just friends” after you’ve had sex. He doesn’t say anything about how having sex right away is an impediment to true intimacy later on. But since Harry’s never in his life TRIED to be truly intimate with anyone, he wouldn’t know that, would he?
All the principal characters are well-to-do. Harry made his money off record companies, and presently owns a hip-hop label (symbolic of his attitude toward women as objects rather than persons). Erica is a successful playwright. Zoe is something like a Professor of Women’s Studies. Marin is an auctioneer at Christie’s. And, of course, the Doctor is a physician. In this film, they are moneyed liberals all around.
It appears that Erica’s only real objection to her daughter’s relationship with Harry is the May-December angle. No one in the cast holds anything like a worldview that sex should be confined to marriage. So the only variables in how this story will end are: (1) Will there be SOME degree of commitment, or NONE? (2) Will the final romantic pairings be age-appropriate, or cross-generational?
Bottom line: The constant barrage of sexual material and attendant liberal politics is distracting and embarrassing, making it impossible to treat this film as “just entertainment.” Yes, it’s funny, but a lot of it is “guilty fun.” There are a few positive lessons, but the bad outweighs the good. This film is appropriate only for very mature audiences, and I don’t recommend it as worthwhile for anyone.
Violence: None | Profanity: Heavy | Sex/Nudity: Heavy
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.