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Another under-appreciated gem
TVholic1 April 2001
"Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light." - Dylan Thomas

The senior characters of this modern day fable took this poem to heart.

When we first meet the motley group, they are as many of us dread one day becoming. Kept in a nursing home, days filled with vapid activities like shuffleboard or mah-jongg, whiling away hours floating in a deserted swimming pool, watching people your own age drop like flies. When that changes through the magic of alien technology, they become, if not the picture of reckless youth, at least a semblance of the people they were once upon a time, proving the old cliché: you ARE only as old as you feel. In that, it's a good lesson for people heading into their golden years or even those of us just having midlife crises. We can't help but grow old. But it's up to us whether we want to BE old or merely mature.

For a science fiction movie, it would appear to have few special effects. This is an illusion. There are quite a few effects shots, although the variety of effects is rather limited. The glowing aliens are quite good except for the all too familiar hand movements by Caprice Rothe, who first did the job for "E.T." Still, by and large the effects are impressive and convincing even when compared against the latest films of the 21st century. Even more impressive was the poolhouse, which was hastily constructed purely as a setpiece for the movie. It looks absolutely real, as if it had sat there among the Florida palms for decades.

Tahnee Welch, daughter of the seemingly ageless Raquel, was wholesomely fetching here. Whether she was a limited actress or merely underplaying the role is for others to decide. Ron Howard wisely kept Steve Guttenberg's role limited, focusing mainly on the older characters. A little Guttenberg goofiness goes a long way. Also present are the standard Howard family repertory, with brother Clint as the nursing home attendant and father Rance making a brief appearance as a detective. Much as already been said about the excellent performances of the older cast members. This was, after all, the role that finally won an Oscar for Don Ameche. But they're slowly slipping away from us, one by one. First Jack Gilford, then Ameche, then Jessica Tandy and recently Gwen Verdon. At least we'll have this movie to remember them by. Maybe they weren't at the peaks of their careers, but quite possibly the roles they fit most comfortably.

Two attempts to cash in on this movie failed. Both 1987's "*batteries Not Included," starring Tandy and Cronyn, and the 1988 sequel "Cocoon: The Return" flopped. Neither had the genuine warmth of this original. Ron Howard showed good judgement in turning down the chance to direct the sequel.

As for the musical score, it's one of James Horner's better works, mixing symphonic grandeur with childlike wonderment. Alas, he does fall into old habits and reuse some bars and measures from his "Wolfen" and "Star Trek II" scores.

It's a shame this movie never found the audience it deserved. I first saw this in a shopping mall four-plex a couple of weeks after its release. There couldn't have been more than 20 people in the entire theater. The whole movie holds up remarkably well in the 16 years since, except for the break dancing. My god, has it been 16 years already? Where can I find some Antarean life force?
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Much more than just another alien film
Lets_talk_about_that20 February 2005
This is one of my all-time favorite movies, for a variety of reasons: A) It treats the theme of aging with such tenderness and doesn't reduce the older characters to props, B) It evokes questions about the supernatural/the possibility of life "out there," and C) The location (Florida) looks so pleasant and inviting. I have loved this film since I was a child in the 80s, and it is still one that I watch over and over (and I still cry at the same spots every time). I have to also say that--in my opinion at least--the characteristic feature of every great movie is a great score/theme melody. Cocoon definitely has it, yet without feeling "epic" and overpowering; the same plucked melody chimes in quietly at all the right moments in the film, lending a profound and quiet connection with each character (even the extra-terrestrial ones). There are moments in this film where, if you don't shed a tear, there must be something wrong with you. Highly recommended film :-)
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A different breed of science fiction, with the warm touch.
emm8 May 1999
COCOON is not at all similar to every other science fiction movie (the ending is a pure exception), but this uses fantasy and magic as a way to express a heartwarmth feeling. What happens when the good elderly citizens of a retirement community discover the "fountain of youth"? It's movies like this going away from the perilous trap and concentrates deeply on our human characteristics. A large cast of older stars, including the late couple Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy, contribute to the warmth and amusement of a non-violent "sci-fi" picture that is a breed apart from the rest. They act as if they're "young again" with incredible energy, and the moments offer the kind and gentle possibilities that wouldn't redeem this as science fiction, but it is. Ron "Ritchie" Howard gives this a whole new acclaim for internally giving us the human spirit that lies within an outside force. For those who crave hard on science fiction, COCOON is a slight misunderstanding due to the light-hearted story it has to offer. What's more entertaining than seeing old folks push over the limits of their acting potential? As Wilford Brimley once said in Quaker Oats commercials, "It's the right thing to do.". Which also means COCOON is the right movie for showing off a different dimension of our feelings inside. And different is right!
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Charming fable that's still fresh
FilmFlaneur28 August 2002
Cocoon is a charming science fiction fable by the underrated Ron Howard. Howard is an amiable, frequently baseball-capped figure who, in the 70's, became a familiar face through his 6 year stint as Richie in TV's Happy Days. Cocoon followed immediately after Splash! (1984), another successful fantasy. It exchanges the Tom Hanks figure featured in that film with a similar one played by Steve Guttenberg, another romantic innocent. But whereas in the earlier film Hanks had a central role, here Jack Bonner (Guttenberg) has far less prominence. This is perhaps because of Guttenberg's modest acting abilities, but principally so the narrative can focus more securely on the characters that matter – the community of senior citizens facing their twilight years at the Sunny Shores Retirement Center.

Cocoon's achievement as a film is all the more remarkable when one reflects upon the scarcity of active, old people in American cinema, let alone a group of them presented so positively in a state of sexual re awakening, then led to such an upbeat conclusion. Behind this apparent optimism, however, the thoughtful viewer can still reflect on some final doubts and uncertainties.

The central circle of old people, around whom events turn, together prove a fine acting ensemble. Arthur (a still svelte Don Ameche), Ben (Selwyn Wilford Brimley) Jo (Hume Cronyn), Bernie (Walter Gilford), Alma (Jessica Tandy), Bess (Gwen Verdon) and the others are a convincing unit, squabbling, relating and facing the end of their lives with cantankerous dignity which is entirely convincing. Tandy and Cronyn were married in real life. Many of film's most poignant moments of the film spring from the relationships between these people. The quiet passing of Rose for instance, and her husband's grief by her bedside. Notable too is the wooing by former song and dance man Ameche of his new lady love, a process during which he shows no lessening of time-honed screen courtesy and assurance. During the opening of the film, Arthur and Jo's witnessing of an unsuccessful resuscitation is a stark reminder of the mortality of the principals, sadly off and on screen. Cocoon was a last hurrah for many of the elderly cast (although one or two survived advancing years to appear in the terrible Cocoon 2(1988)).

The other major character group are the Antareans. Here too a refreshing leap out of the stereotypical is taken as the aliens prove reasonable, non aggressive and forgiving – perhaps characteristics inspired by Spielberg's influential and amenable ET (1982) or the religiosity of Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977). Jack Bonner's near hysterical reaction to their initial unmasking ('If you try and eat my face off you'll be very, very sorry'), his following conversion then inevitable dalliance, are all handled with an effective lightness. Even Howard's depiction of an alien orgasm on screen as Jack romances Kitty (Tahnee Welch) without touching, in the life giving pool, is done sensitively. It is perhaps the most striking moment of its sort in Science Fiction cinema since Woody Allen's Sleeper (1973). Cocoon is a film in which sexual energy is equated closely to an amplified life force and is seen as both positive and welcome. Both young and old feel the replenishment of their passion, directly or indirectly, in connection with the cocoon tank. Here the items retrieved from the sea are settled at the bottom, somewhat ominous reminders of a life to come. The title itself is suggestive, not only of the typical dormacy of a chrysalis, but of impending rebirth such an object heralds. As the oldsters rejuvenate with the 'fountain of youth', they find new meaning and value in their lives, a belated development which even leads to the sad break up of families. The desire for life can be selfish, even when healthily expressed, and some prefer to 'stick with the hand nature has given' them.

The Antarean's recovery of their 'ground crew' is what brings them to earth. While their leader's account of them having originally lodged themselves in what was Atlantis is slightly hoary (their bases apparently having sunk during the 'first great upheaval') the film wisely seers away from too much alien hardware. Apart from the pretty device on the deck of Bonner's boat, and the splendours of the returning mother ship, very little technology is glimpsed. The Antareans are certainly strange, but lacking much hard evidence of their difference enables the audience to relate to them easily. Even their unskinning, as they emerge as their true, shining selves, is a wonderous event, a shining transfiguration with no implicit threat to humanity.

These are aliens associated with whiteness and with life, forgiving and considerate, exhibiting 'christian' values. They radiate and float like angels when emerging from human covering, and their ship takes the departing OAPs up into the light. Hollywood readily associates such light with the rewards of heaven (for other examples of the brilliance bestowed upon the departing see The Frighteners (1996) or Jacob's Ladder (1990). Substitute the pool of life for baptism, the smiling Walter (Brian Dennehy) for a prophet, and Cocoon's alien spaceship might just as easily be the Gabriel leading the faithful to paradise.

But what of the end of the film? Is it really as happy and as affirmative as it first seems? Bonner has made great play with his responsibility as a skipper in an earlier scene with Kitty. At the conclusion he might, therefore, reasonably be held to account for his loss of a cargo of elderly transportees. At least one extended family is broken up by their leaving. And Walter has to return home, his mission a failure, together with a boatload of unexpected guests. At the least the final ascension is a complex event, leaving some tensions unresolved. That Cocoon manages to hold all these elements together in a satisfying whole is one reason to seek it out. To enjoy a warm hearted family film is another.
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Movie to make you think.
joe2m7 May 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Movie about some adventureous older people who discovered the fountain of youth. Of course, as with anything too good to be true, the fountain turned out to be a life support tank for aliens! The life support tank was a swimming pool which contained some mysterious energy to bring back ancient alien comrads which were contained in some large seed-like pods. The mysterious energy also had the ability to give life back to the elderly humans who stumbled on it. Of course the aliens discover that the older people are having a good time with with this scenerio. To say more would be to give away the important messages the movie is trying to present.

May not be the best movie ever made, but far better than average. It showed both the young at heart and the old, even though all of them were physically old. I'm not that old but it makes you appreciate what getting old is about. Remember that when you see an elderly person, some of them may be old but some of them are more alive then people much younger. Don't just respect them but indulge them.

Ron howard rarely disappoints.
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Interesting and thought-provoking
raymond-159 August 2004
Made 20 years ago with some former well-known actors, this film has stood the test of time very well and delivers a very interesting and thought-provoking story about the mortality of man.

A group of people in a retirement village discover a neighbouring swimming pool which is out of bounds, but they have fun in it nevertheless. There are some strange objects lying on the bottom of the pool, but even more strange is the fact that after swimming there the old folk feel transformed and the vigor of their youth returns to their bodies. This makes for some light comedy as their hormones begin to take over.

These old people have a very serious decision to make and it is not an easy one. This is probably the best part of the film. Should they accept or decline the invitation? Having made the decision there is no turning back! We ask ourselves...what would we do placed in their circumstances? We feel very much involved. Thinking it over, isn't this proposal very much like what the Christian churches are promising us?

The final memorial church service by the sea is such a fitting ending and the little grandson David gives such a knowing smile as he raises his eyes to the sky.
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Let's swim in a pool that has weird boulders dumped into it
MartianOctocretr57 August 2006
Some seniors find the long sought-after Fountain of Youth by accident, just by regularly sneaking into a neighbor's pool. I don't know if I'd swim in a pool that has moss-covered boulders tossed into it, but these guys do, and find their youthful vitality returning.

Unbeknownst to the men, aliens on a mission have rented the neighbor's place, and set up the pool as their base of operations. Fortunately, these were post-ET/Close Encounters beings, so they had benevolent intentions.

Great cast of some familiar faces, and the screen chemistry of the cast members is wonderful as they range from highly emotional to contentious in their interaction. The nursing home residents are marvelous in portraying their renewed joy of life. Don Ameche is dashing with the ladies, and acts the role of a youthful character very well. Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy, Mareen Stapleton, and Wilford Brimley are all great. However, the movie is certainly not all a feel-good warm fuzzies type of story; there are some sad tragedies that occur as the plot moves forward.

My one criticism is that the film lacks the courage to address its central theme, the idea of eternal life, only skirting its ramifications. Only one character rejects the idea, but generic platitudes (like "belonging here") he says explain nothing of his reasoning. The film doesn't analyze the people who desire immortality enough, either. We get a few morsels about missing baseball, fishing, and grandchildren. But this shallow analysis gives insufficient insight to this infinitely critical decision the characters are faced with.

It's an interesting tale, with a bittersweet message about our own mortality. A well done production that has you wishing the best for the characters, and contemplating what you might do if you were in their shoes.
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Sweet film that probably means more today
blanche-27 January 2008
1985's Cocoon, directed by Ron Howard, asks - would you give up the emotional, mental and physical pain of growing old if you could? Baby boomers today feel that death is optional and seek out whatever it takes to make them feel and look young - so if Cocoon came out in 2008, it would perhaps resonate even more.

The story takes place in a rest home inhabited by a group of friends: Arthur (Don Ameche), Benjamin (Wilford Brimley) and his wife Marilyn (Maureen Stapleton), Joseph (Hume Cronyn) and his wife Alma (Jessica Tandy) and a perky red-head Bess (Gwen Verdon). The guys have taken to going to an abandoned pool house and swimming - without permission, of course. Then the building is rented by a man (Brian Dennehy). This same man also rents a boat from Jack Bonner (Steve Guttenberg), who is down on his luck and can use the money. He watches Jack, his beautiful assistant Kitty (Tahnee Welch) and some other people skindiving and bringing up huge silver packages. These packages are then dumped into the pool. After the men swim there one day, they find themselves suddenly rejuvenated and start having sex, staying up, nightclubbing and having more energy. Meantime, on the boat, Jack has gotten a look at Kitty getting ready for bed...and notices that she removes her skin as well as her clothes and glows in the dark.

This movie has many poignant moments - Alma coming to grips with the fact that her husband has always cheated, and the saddest of all, when Bernard (Jack Gilford) who has been violently opposed to the whole idea of the pool as a fountain of youth, desperately brings his wife there.

Howard cast this with an eye toward man's normal immortality - children - with Raquel Welch's daughter and Tyrone Power's son, Tyrone Power Jr. as Pillsbury - while telling the story of people who have a chance at a different kind of immortality. Both Power and Welch bear strong resemblance to their famous parents. The old-timers in the cast are among the greatest actors of their generation and sadly, we've lost nearly all of them now. Only Wilford Brimley remains. The film revived Don Ameche's career, and the cast returned for a sequel, "Cocoon: The Return." A wonderful film to see the old stars in a very touching story and to ask yourself - if you had the chance, would you take it?
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Madman-1010 May 1999
This film completely surprised me first time. I thought it was your usual silly alien film - but it is so much more then that - and if it is possible the brilliant Ron Howard makes it all believable. Two things stand out among all else - the fantastic score (one of the best I have ever heard) The superb ending - which was one of the most original endings - possibly ever.

I just can't say enough about just how good this film is.

As far as performances go I was particularly surprised by the acting of the senior citizens especially Jack Gilford as the miserable old codger Bernie - I love it when he completely breaks down and softens after spending an hour and 20 minutes as the most awful old man you could ever have the misfortune to bump into - the transformation was immediate but so believable - and I personally think that performance was worthy of a supporting actor oscar.

Also Brian Dennehy, Wilford Brimley, Don Ameche and Steve Guttenburg were also excellent.

An all round fantastic film which everyone can enjoy - all ages
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Early Ron Howard Entertainer.
tfrizzell3 July 2002
Six elderly people (Oscar-winner Don Ameche in more of a lifetime achievement award, Wilford Brimley, Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy, Maureen Stapleton and Gwen Verdon) start swimming at a locked up housed swimming pool that has strange pods in it and then start doing things that contradict their ages. Of course the pods really house aliens from another planet and they are the reasons for the "fountain of youth". Ron Howard's sympathetic and clever direction saves this uneven project that starts out as a pure comedy and then turns into a rough drama as the clock ticks away. Brian Dennehy and Steve Guttenberg shine in smart supporting roles. 4 stars out of 5.
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GOWBTW19 October 2007
This movie was totally fantasy. However, it does give the meaning of the word "fountain of youth". Being a senior citizen isn't always have to be a pain. Most enjoy life, while others tend to sulk about being old and useless. Three seniors(Don Ameche, Wilford Brimley, and Hume Cronyn) venture out to an abandoned indoor swimming pool and the guys seem to feel like their teens. However, they get scared off by some aliens who happen to be friendly. Unknown what's in the water these guys feel vibrant and alive. The other alien encounter is on the boat of Jack Bonner(Steve Guttenberg), who totally freaks out when he peeps on the young woman who sheds more than just her clothes. In the same pool scene, she shows her power to Bonner. And I liked the part where he says, "If this is foreplay, I'm a dead man". Hmmm.... sex with an alien, interesting. I also like the part where Ameche's character does a little break-dancing. It goes to show that old folks can get down with the young. It was also very heart-warming, and I think it deserves more credit than it should. Other than that, I enjoyed it very much. 3 out of 5 stars!
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A rare and truthful focus on the elderly makes "Cocoon" a nice film
Movie_Muse_Reviews2 January 2010
Very few films have been made with seniors as the main characters. It seems that Hollywood producers are convinced we prefer to see younger people on the screen -- and they're probably right. "Cocoon" is a rare elderly-focused take on the fountain of youth concept, an ancient motif that's enough proof in itself that humans desire young age, whether in general or at the movies. Although science fiction, "Cocoon" is simple and mild-mannered like its lovable old protagonists. It might be light on drama but it's big on heart.

Loaded with stars from yesteryear, among them Don Ameche, Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy and Gwen Verdon, one could say "Cocoon" was an '80s alien movie made specifically for an older crowd. And that's fair -- they deserve it. It's as if director Ron Howard was hoping to give his cast some of their youth back in letting them take prominence in the film, based on a story by David Saperstein and screenplay by Tom Benedek. It's not riveting sci-fi material but it prompts an honest conversation about aging, one that in reality someone of any age could understand and appreciate.

The film takes place in a senior living center in St. Petersburg, Florida. As part of their recreation time, three of the senior men enjoy swimming in the abandoned pool just through the woods around the center. When a strange group of people come in and buy the old house and rent a boat at the dock, the stubborn old guys still come to swim in the pool, only it appears the people are storing rocks in the water. They swim anyway and find that with the rocks in the pool (actually alien cocoons) that they feel energetic, rejuvenated -- and younger.

Howard's film is easygoing. There is not a lot of suspense or gripping conflict. Instead, you watch and get a kick out of the way these seniors and their wives behave having been affected by the water. Their sex drive, for example, reappears to comic effect and there's general misbehavior. They all come off as bigger children and each have a different reaction to this "cheating" of age. Thus the film's core conflict of whether it's right to defy nature appears and guides the rest of the film. It's a replacement for any major form of antagonism.

"Cocoon" is touching because the story is very frank in portraying these seniors as having nothing to live for but each other and whatever remaining family they have. When you're that old, a chance at prolonged life is like being granted a whole new world of opportunity whereas you're just biding time when you're old and physically and mentally unable to do the things you used to.

There have been better stories, better special effects (although this one an Oscar in 1985) and better science-fiction films, so "Cocoon" is best appreciated as a unique film about old age, something movies rarely focus entirely upon.

~Steven C

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A feel good movie!
Troy2Slick30 July 2002
This is one of those movies that just makes you feel good to be alive!

It deals with the issues of aging, dying, dealing with a loss to loved ones. Don Ameche, Wilford Brimley, Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy, and many more, bring this film alive!

In the question of our we alone, is frankly answered in this movie. When aging friends decide to break into a house, for a friendly swim in the swimming pool, they get more than they bargain for. It turns out that the pool contains something that their bodies can't resist. Something that turns back the hands of time.

I'd continue more onto the plot, but I suggest that you read up some more on this title and check it out for yourself.

It contains great acting, comedy, drama, and hell, even some romance!

A feel good movie for anyone of all ages. I recommend this as a must see. 8 out of 10!
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..lovely fairytale for older folk (me)..
fimimix17 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I've read all of the other comments and agree with all of them, plus ! I give the movie "Cocoon" a 10, because it's silly and fun, touching and realistic, well-acted and directed by Ron Howard. Dave Saperstein's script is a little nutty, but delightful. I didn't see who wrote the score, but it's lovely.

Don Ameche deserved his Oscar, and some of the other cast-members should have been nominated, too - if for no other reason for the long number of years they gave to movie-goers in this country.

Wilford Brimley (Ben) really held the story together, and did his role well, especially in scenes with his grandson. Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy have appeared in more roles than all these guys put together, and certainly added brilliance to the story. Maureen Stapleton and Jack Gilford were very good. Gwen Verdon - that fabulous dancing-lady in many Broadway shows - was painted like a young gal and had the most modern coifs......looked good and was great in the dance sequences. Chita Rivera paid her the highest compliment just this week for KCET's fund-raising program - said dancing with her was one of the highlights of her career.

Young'uns, it is my opinion that older people defeat their sexual prowess by accepting the general public's denigration, themselves - but, I'm glad those guys found "the fountain of youth" and enjoyed it while they could. NOW, although he was the youngest actor in the cast, it is also my opinion Steve Guttenberg's character was "sexed-up" to the hilt.....lots of scenes without shirts, always tight trunks, lots of "pretty-boy" shots.....I was certain his "boner" was going to hang-out of his shorts at any was constantly visible.

The cinematography of underwater scenes of "Atlantis" were gorgeous, and the camera was used effectively to show how the "cocoons" were taken out of the water and put back in it. Wouldn't we all like to find such a magic pool? The return of the spaceship was used effectively for the few "alien" aspects of the film, and certainly gave Brian Dennehy the opportunity to cap a well-played role. Another added excitement was the grandson being on the boat, wanting to go - then realizing his life was with his mother. All those Coast Guard boats were a lead-up to the thrill of the "boat" being drawn-up into the spaceship.....maybe they WERE going to heaven.......

Not one violent scene in the movie, and EVERYONE loved it. What a "feel-good" movie!, and one for all people to contemplate how they'll handle their you do really IS in your head. I'm 82-going-on-18 and loving it all. Congrats to all involved in getting this movie to the screen - it's a gem, and I recommend it to everyone......
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"We don't know what forever is."
utgard1421 May 2014
Aliens, disguised as humans, rent Steve Guttenberg's boat to help them recover some alien cocoons from the ocean. Then they store them in the bottom of a swimming pool next door to a retirement home. A group of oldsters from the retirement home take a swim in the pool and find themselves feeling youthful and reinvigorated.

Charming, pleasant, and touching film from Ron Howard that's a showcase for a fine cast of elderly actors. Don Ameche, Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy, Maureen Stapleton, and the other oldsters are all great but Wilford Brimley is the standout. It could be argued Steve Guttenberg is only in the movie to give it some youth appeal, to say nothing of his 'sort of romance' with Tahnee Welch (daughter of Raquel). But he doesn't detract from things at all and is likable throughout the picture. It's a truly unique and wonderful movie. One of the many classics made in the '80s, a decade that is vastly underrated by film snobs.
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You know you're getting old when ...
dimplet10 July 2011
... you're older than Ron Howard!

And you had a crush on Gwen Verdon when she played Lola in "Damn Yankees."

You know you're getting old when you put on "Cocoon" and keep waiting for the Marx Brothers to make their appearances.

You think you are watching "Cocoanuts."

But you aren't quite sure because the last time you saw it was in its original theatrical release.

Just before The Crash.

All you can remember is it was set in Florida.

And they kept trying to sell you some land.

Which you bought.

This movie is set in Florida, and you figure it must be "Cocoanuts" because what else could those things be in the pool?

Then, 15 minutes into the film, you fall asleep.

You dream of an enchanted evening in the South Pacific and think you're still in the Marines.

Then Harpo finally appears.

Playing a harp.

Good night, and sweet dreams.
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Enjoyable ET-inspired fable.
vip_ebriega18 September 2008
My Take: The all-star veteran cast is the selling point, but it's also a sweeping story about life and love.

Ever since audiences were awe-struck with Steven Spielberg's heart-warming and crowd-pleasing E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL, many rip-offs and knock-offs tried to duplicate the success of the film (What blockbuster hit wouldn't). It's easy to consider Ron Howard's COCOON as a part of this cycle, but this is a very different tale all together. Sure it has aliens (that clearly looks like guys in an alien suit surrounded by animated lights) that came in peace. Sure it has a kid with a mother very worried of him suddenly running-off. Sure it clearly wanted to be the classic that E.T. was. But COCOON also has fine acting (by a veteran, all-star cast), a touching story and some very humorous and sometimes uplifting moments that make it a spellbinding tale.

COCOON is much less a sci-fi movie than it is a drama, and a brilliant one at that. Howard provides both humor and touching tear-jerking moments and handles them both very well. Then it leaves the all-star cast to give the performances of their career (Don Ameche is at his peak when he boogies like John Travolta in one scene). The story concerns the arrival of peaceful extra-terrestrial beings, disguised as normal human beings, who aid the help of a skipper (Steve Guttenberg) to find one of their friends trapped in the ocean floor. Upon finding them, they are placed in a small swimming pool the next day. Coincidentally, a couple of elders swim in the pool, who are then endowed with youthful energy, giving them a chance to enjoy the last remains of their life they way they wanted to.

As played by one of the best acting veterans he can handle, Howard's fantasy is a funny, poignant and simply charming fairy tale for the older set packed with laughs (seeing these old guys and gals party about like a couple of college buddies are warm and funny) and heart-breaking drama (the scenes where they discover the perils of time and age can't help but be tear-jerking). Howard is especially good at handling the film with originality, not looking at E.T. even for a minute. It ain't a flawless classic as the other film is, but it is nonetheless a very charming movie that much deserves a revisit.

Rating: **** out of 5.
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jboothmillard9 January 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I must admit I tried watching it once and got bored or tired, but seeing it again I'm glad I gave it another chance, it is a pretty good science-fiction fantasy. Basically Arthur 'Art' Selwyn (Oscar winning Don Ameche, who I knew did the voice of Shadow, the golden retriever in Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey), Benjamin 'Ben' Luckett (Wilford Brimley) and Joseph 'Joe' Finley (Hume Cronyn) are three ordinary old men living in the home, and they are annoyed that their swimming pool isn't heated. Meanwhile, Jack Bonner (Steve Guttenberg) has his boat hired by three ordinary looking people, Walter (Brian Dennehy), Kitty (Tahnee Welch, daughter of Raquel) and Doc (Mike Nomad) for three weeks, so that they collect some special underwater things, what look like rocks. These rocks, or rather cocoons, are put into their house swimming pool, and not long later Art, Ben and Joe are trespassing while they are gone to use the pool. After using the pool, they are discovering they can do more physical things they could not before, in other words, they are feeling young again. By accident, Jack discovers that his three passengers are aliens wearing skin suits, they call themselves Antereans, and they are on Earth collecting cocoons containing their friends, Jack agrees to help them, and knows they mean no harm. As the three old men embrace their new found youthfulness, they also discover the secret of the Antereans, and also the other old people in the home, especially Bernard 'Bernie' Lefkowitz (Jack Gilford) and Alma Finley (Jessica Tandy) wonder about (or do not want to be part of) this "fountain of youth", and when all the old people (except Bernie) jump into the water to soak in youth, this is what kills the aliens inside the cocoons. So in the end, since they have absorbed the youthfulness of the alien cocoons, all the old people have a tough decision to make, stay on the Earth, or come with the Antereans to their home world to live forever, so all except Bernie decide to go with them. Also starring Maureen Stapleton as Marilyn Luckett, Gwen Verdon as Bess McCarthy, Herta Ware as Rosie Lefkowitz, The NeverEnding Story's Barret Oliver as David, Linda Harrison as Susan, Tyrone Power Jr. as Pillsbury, Clint Howard (Ron's brother) as John Dexter, Charles Lampkin as Pops and Jorge Gil as Lou Pine. I don't think Guttenberg is as bad as the critics think he is, the special effects are impressive, and I can see reasons why Ameche won the Oscar, a good film. It won the Oscar for Best Visual Effects, and it was nominated the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical. Very good!
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Story about aliens and their positive effect on some older people on earth.
meidego23 July 2007
This movie is about aliens who bring "cocoons" that hold other aliens to the ocean for a while and then must retrieve them and return to their home planet. The aliens change their appearance to look like normal people so as not to be detected. They hire a boat to retrieve these cocoons from the ocean. The retrieved cocoons are then stored temporarily in a swimming pool. A residential community for older people is located near the pool where the cocoons are being held. Some of the older residents decide to "break into" the pool area and go swimming. The effect these cocoons have on some older people and the efforts of the aliens to not have their identities revealed is the main storyline. The interactions of the older people and the aliens is the body of the movie. There are some twists and turns making this movie funny, serious, and generally enjoyable. This is a feel-good movie.
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Old People and Aliens
ericventura28 June 2017
What could have been a simple disaster movie took a late turn into the depths of mysteriousness and emotional ignorance. Like a horrible aftertaste, Cocoon starts out well and turns sour halfway into the meal. What Jaws (1975) did, Ron Howard decided not to do. Trading in simplicity for a screenplay of old people and aliens, he attempts to weave a tale of redemption and fate, instead finding himself directing an action movie with no purpose.

In fact, this movie has no purpose whatsoever. It says nothing, it accomplishes nothing, and it does nothing. It's a story for telling a story's sake. But where Inside Llewyn Davis (2013) tells a story because of the existence of the story, Cocoon must search out the material to make the story. And the screenplay looks long and hard for that inspiration for a good story – and gives up. So we get a movie with old people and aliens. A story where old people of Earth have more in common with aliens from some distant planet (that have apparently been to Earth already, explaining certain human legends) than with their own kind. But where E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) makes good use of moral children and friendly aliens, this movie decides to attempt to make a sentimental story with a stupid child and indulgent aliens. But wait…there's more! Don't forget the necessary, underdeveloped, and makes-no-sense-whatsoever love story – in this case between a human and an alien.

The beginning was decent however. Howard attempts to construct a slowly building tense storyline of gradually revealed twists. Which works until it feels like the movie should end at around the 80 minute mark instead of the 120 minute mark. The slow sci-fi drama of the first half is quickly overshadowed by the feel-good catastrophe of the second half.

Don Ameche was decent, but I think the Academy has something for old people, like Art Carney in Harry and Tonto (1974). While good performances, do they deserve the Academy Award? The visual effects were good for the time and not abused unlike many an action and sci-fi movie of today, not to name names. If only Howard could have kept the slow build up going, like Arrival (2016), he would have had a fine classic entry into the 80s sci-fi movie collection. Now, we just have Cocoon, the classically bad movie.
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Dandy_Desmond31 July 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Cocoon could have been very depressing and parts of it are very emotional and sad but beautifully handled. It deals with subjects that are quite difficult to sell - being old, facing the death of loved ones or coming to the end of your own time. However thankfully its also very funny contains great well rounded characters and has some great music from James Horner.

Steve Guttenbergs character owns a boat and does crappy tours but is struggling to make ends meet and is down on his luck. Enter four mysterious strangers asking him to take them to a certain point in the ocean with no questions asked. He agrees and while spying on the pretty female played by Tahnee Welch (mmmmm!) he finds out they are actually Aliens retrieving Cocoons containing their friends that have lain at the bottom of the sea for thousands of years. Intercutting with this we have the story of an old peoples home and a group of friends biding their time until death takes them as it takes the people around them one by one. Three life long friends (Ameche, Brimley and Cronin)sneak into a local pool and relax but one day find the pool full of cocoons. After their swim they gain a new lease of life - they all get their libido back, their health and their sense of joy in life.

I won't go into detail but what made this an enjoyable film for me was the characters. Each of the friends had their own background, their own questions and concerns as to what was happening and their new lease of life had a different effect on each of them. For example I loved how Hume Cronins character at the beginning was dying of cancer - you felt sorry for him as a sick old man, then when the pool cures him you find out as he gets his sex drive back he has an eye for the ladies and cheats on his wife and that its not the first time as he has treat her badly this way before. I also loved the relationship between Wilford Brimleys character and Barret Oliver. You felt a real grandfather - grandson bond between them. Special mention to the other friend in the group - the eternally grouchy Bernie who refuses to go in the pool or let his sick wife. After the old folks run rampant the energy from the cocoons is drained and the pool stops working its magic - then Bernies wife dies and he Carry's her to the pool begging for it to bring her back. Its pretty heart wrenching stuff for the likes of me. Thankfully though although sometimes I did have a tear in my eye there was some laughter to go along with it. The interplay between the old folks is very funny and its a joy to see them change from old codgers to teenagers overnight and I find Steve Guttenberg amusing as well. Overall I found Cocoon a very entertaining film. Emotional, sad, beautiful, funny and above all memorable. Sadly most of the cast is gone but through their work they live on.
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An uplifting and highly entertaining adventure
Idocamstuf10 February 2003
This is a very likable movie about a group of elderly people who come across what seems to be a fountain of youth. From the very first time that I have seen this movie it has deeply moved me. The whole story is wonderful and the characters are all portrayed by an ensemble of wonderful elderly actors. This film is extremely heart warming and it always brings tears to my eyes!! This is definitely one of Ron Howard's best and most under-appreciated film. If you enjoyed films like "E.T.", and "Starman", Cocoon is a must see. I guarantee anyone that they will be glad they gave it a try after viewing this film. ****1/2 out of *****.
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Why aren't there more films like this?
jcroucher18 August 2000
Cocoon is a unique movie in many ways. It is hard to categorise as just a sci-fi or just a comedy. It successfully melds many different genres. It moves effortlessly from light-hearted comedy to touching drama. Full credit should go to Ron Howard's confident and sincere direction and the support he gets from the ensemble cast. If you like comedy or sci-fi this movie is well worth a look. Note particularly the excellent score. Hollywood needs more movies like this!
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Excellent film
grahamsj313 February 2003
With an all-star cast and a really good story, this film can hold its own against nearly any other. These are all veteran actors and their performances in this film reflect their experience. In short, this is a very well-acted, written and directed film. The story is a touching one, with elements of all sorts of emotions and human interactions. There is real depth to the story and the film can be watched on one of several levels and enjoyed on each level. If you're looking for just a good entertaining story, it is that. If you want to delve deeper into various aspects of human behavior, those elements are all present as well. This film is well worth your time and it's entertaining, too!
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Pleasant sci-fi
henrysarki-221 September 2000
The premise of this fine science fiction movie is plausible, and its cast of veteran actors makes it a real joy to watch. Don Ameche, who is making a comeback after all these years; the husband and wife team of Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy who have played together for ever; Wilford Brimley; Maureen Stapleton and the rest of this wonderful group make together a great combination. I first took notice of Brian Dennehy and his imposing presence in this movie, and he fits well in all his roles, good guy, or bad guy. I enjoyed watching its third re-run years after having seen it for the first time, and enjoyed it just as much. Maybe it's because I'm nearing 80 and I relate to those guys. It seems to be on its way to become a classic, despite its oft repeated ending.
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