On Golden Pond (1981)
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- 109 min.
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Great film about an elderly couple nearing the end of their life and looking back on their triumphs and mistakes. Wonderful acting all around.
Henry Fonda was brilliant! His Academy Award was well deserved.
I guess I'm in the minority, here, but... I did not like On Golden Pond. What might've been a send-off worthy of these great screen figures' careers is dead in the water. Let me ask you: if this film starred less-famous, but comparably-talented actors, would it have any impact or resonance at all? This film feels cheap because the emotional weight is purely contextual. The meat of this film -- the actual content -- is nigh-irrelevant.
Now, you might say "many great films rely on context to be fully appreciated," and you would be right. Dr. Strangelove is funny on its own, but knowing a thing or two about relations between the USSR and the USA makes it 10x funnier; I recently watched 1956's Limelight at the tail end of a Charlie Chaplin marathon, and had I seen that film without knowing anything about Chaplin or seeing any of his other films I surely wouldn't have loved it as much as I did. The difference with On Golden Pond is that even though I love Katharine Hepburn and Henry Fonda, I felt almost nothing for them in this film. They aren't bad, per se, but the material they're given is a whole lot of nothing. The dialogue is nothing but cutesy contrivance after cutesy contrivance. All that lefty grandparent swearing turned into what was basically a catchphrase by the end (and I hate catchphrases).
I'd like to say more, but there's nothing more to say. It's no better than a mediocre TV movie cashing in on your nostalgia. It does nothing interesting; the most it does is deliver on the concept of sweet, occasionally quirky... stuff. I'd say it has no drama, but I feel that makes it sound as if I have unrealistic expectations. I'm not looking for excitement or soap-operatic twists; I'm just looking for SOMETHING INTERESTING! Give me SOMETHING! ANYTHING!
I'll grant that an older viewer might get more out of the shallow themes of age, death and family, but I do know one particularly cynical senior who definitely wouldn't be into this. So, really, it depends on the viewer. Not every senior is the same. I can't say I feel confident suggesting this movie for any crowd, because it appears most people like this movie. Maybe you'll (you, the person reading this who hasn't seen this film yet) watch it and have no idea what I'm talking about.
I don't know how to end this thing.
Bringing Up Baby is great and screw everyone at the top of that comment section!
Edit: you know what? A lot of what makes this movie sorta intolerable is the music. It's SO saccharine. I misdiagnosed my problem with this movie a little bit and I'm sorry. This is why I should wait until the next day before publishing one of these review things.
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In 6 official lists
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This movie ranks #22 in AFI's 100 years...100 passions
This movie ranks #45 in AFI's 100 years...100 cheers
This movie ranks #74 in Golden Globe Best Picture Winners
This movie ranks #185 in All Time Box Office
This movie ranks #331 in Academy Award Best Picture Nominees
This movie ranks #1023 in Halliwell's Top 1000: The Ultimate Movie Countdown