Cocoon (1985)

Ron Howard directs Steve Guttenberg, Wilford Brimley and Brian Dennehey in this sci-fi comedy where a retirement home’s residents are rejuvenated by the aliens next door’s fountain of youth indoor swimming pool.

I don’t think neither this nor Batteries Not Included would ever have gotten commissioned in any other two year window in Hollywood history other than 1985-1987. I bet the studios were trying to marry the box office and critical success of On Golden Pond and E.T. together in an arranged marriage of sap. “Greenlight that coffin dodger, old codger Sci-Fi schmaltz-fy, Joel!” This just about captures that unlikely lightning in the bottle. Genuinely pleasant fantasy. The close encounters stuff is well executed with a carefully shop-lifted Spielbergian wonder. Everything glows angelically. The pensioners go a-breakdancing and a-fist fighting comedy is well delivered. Soft sold yucks, solid con shots. Guttenberg is always an acquired taste as a comedy lead but I have a nostalgic affection for his rubber faced overkill. Dennehey impresses as the benevolent lead grey. In all honesty, either I watched this at 8 years old when it debuted on telly or only caught trailers and channel surfing snippets. Teeth to tits it holds up as a really tight entertainment, birthed from an uniquely unlikely pitch.

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