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Thu September 28, 2006
Boynton Beach Club
None of that old stereotyping
By John DeSando, WCBE's "It's Movie Time"
"Old age is not a disease--it is strength and survivorship, triumph over all kinds of vicissitudes and disappointments, trials and illnesses." Maggie Kuhn
Our perception of seniors in the media has recently been formed by Jerry Seinfeld's parents in a Florida retirement community. They and their aging friends are unrelentingly argumentative, early-bird dining Jewish retirees who look and act old. Susan Seidelman's Boynton Beach Club, however, will have none of that old stereotyping.
As if they were older siblings of the emerging boomer solipsists, these seniors at a "bereavement club" are generally vital, best exemplified by Dyan Cannon's lithesome body but suspiciously tight face, Sally Kellerman's lean and sensual mien, and Brenda Vaccaro's vulnerable enthusiasm. All have reason to be down, for they have lost their spouses but are gaining friends to share their grief with and possibly their lives. Enter the objects of their search for companionship, among others, Joe Bologna's Harry and Len Cariou's Jack, the former a self-proclaimed ladies' man, the latter a shy recent widow lacking skills to cope with mature women.
Unlike the seniors in Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont, Manna from Heaven, In her Shoes, and Golden Girls, the principals in Boynton Beach only occasionally resort to jokes about their age or ailments and prescription drugs, the ties that bind elderly everywhere but here are minimized by one reference to Viagra and one to old men who are not even ogling women when they drool. Here the seniors are actively living and loving, something the rest of the world does as well.
This dramedy is as satisfying as an afternoon drink on the veranda with a favorite granddaughter, at which happy occasion there is cause to celebrate being alive and connected between generations with nary a nod to senility.
John DeSando teaches film at Franklin University and co-hosts WCBE 90.5's "It's Movie Time," which can be heard streaming at www.wcbe.org Fridays at 3:01 pm and 8:01 pm and on demand anytime. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.RR.com