Thursday, February 24, 2011


(June 1985, U.S.)

I suppose you have to appreciate three things in order to really take COCOON to heart. First, you have to love Ron Howard's films. Second, you have to appreciate the natural cinematic beauty of St. Petersburg, Florida where the film was made. Third, you have to get a real kick out of watching a bunch of old people act like a bunch of young people. If you can do all that, then COCOON can stand out as a slightly more original science fiction film than others before it.

We've all heard the myth of the Fountain of Youth, right? Well, COCOON puts the concept in the hands of outer space aliens and an unused swimming pool. You see, about 10,000 years ago a group of peaceful alien lifeforms from the planet Antarea formed an outpost on the planet Earth, on an island known to mankind as the mythical civilization of Atlantis; according to legend, Atlantis sank as the result of an earthquake. Members of the group remained behind in cocoons, to ensure that the rest had sufficient lifeforce to return to their home planet. Eventually a group of four Antareans returns to pick them up. Following me so far? So after disguising themselves as humans they rent a house with a swimming pool, which they charge with the lifeforce, to give the cocooned Antareans enough energy to survive the trip home. Then they rent a boat from local captain Jack Bonner (played by Steve Guttenberg), who unknowingly takes them to the location of Atlantis to retrieve their cocoons. Local elderly residents discover the pool and life begins to change for them. They're feeling the lifeforce and now they're feeling young, hot and ready to rock and roll! And in the end, like Roy Neary and little Elliot from two Spielberg films, they're invited to tag along with the aliens, which they do. When they get there, they'll never grow any older and they'll never die. Sounds like a sweet deal!

Although Ron Howard was already showing signs of being a gifted director with previous films like NIGHT SHIFT (1982) and SPLASH! (1984), it occurred to me for a while at the time that he may just be attempting to be another Steven Spielberg/George Lucas clone. WILLOW (1987) almost confirmed that presumption (I hated that movie!). Thankfully, later films (not FAR AND AWAY!) proved me wrong.

Favorite line or dialogue:

Walter: "I want you all to consider what I am about to suggest to you. You people seem to want what we've got. Well, we have room for you. We have room for you and about thirty of your friends. You would be students of course, but you'd also be teachers. And the new civilizations you would be travelling to would be unlike anything you've ever seen before. But I promise you, you will all lead productive lives."
Ben Luckett: "Forever?"
Walter: "We don't know what forever is."

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