Cocoon (1985) Directed by Ron Howard. With Don Ameche, Hume Cronyn, Steve Guttenberg, Jessica Tandy, Brian Dennehy and Wilford Brimley.
Released 8 years after Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Ron Howard’s Cocoon is another alien contact film, loaded with subtext about the benign nature of the universe. Working with an impressive ensemble cast including Don Ameche, Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy and Wilford Brimley, Howard’s film centres on the elderly residents of Sunny Shores Retirement Home, and their chance encounter with an alien force that serendipitously rejuvenates them.
This is an unassuming, heart-warming tale that aims to make its audience feel good. To that end, its benevolent tone might perhaps be a touch lukewarm for some tastes. Furthermore, you’d be mistaken for thinking this is a film bursting with laugh-out-loud moments. No, it’s more of a sunny experience that endeavours to make you smile, rather than jabbing hard at your funny bone.
The cast all seem to have a great time, radiating a holiday camp feel that supports the kindly tone of the piece. Hume Cronyn, Wilford Brimley and Don Ameche, in particular, seem to embrace being in the film, allowing for good moments of banter. As not to alienate portions of the family market, the writers seems at pains include characters from all the age demographics. Fresh from his success in Police Academy, Steve Guttenberg is cast as a charismatic male figure, who yes, you guessed it, happens across an extra-terrestrial female love-interest in Tahnee Welch. There’s also a plucky kid character.
The aliens themselves, are made less interesting than the human characters. Although their presence in the film is pivotal to its central narrative, they are written as one-dimensional beings, treated as necessary devices for the plot, as opposed to fleshed-out characters in it.
Yes it could be funnier and no, it isn’t a classic, but neither of these things really seem to matter to it, or the people who love it for what it is. A sweet-natured message about not fearing death and embracing life. Group hug. 3/5