Boynton Beach Club is a movie featuring – finally! – realistic 60+ people experiencing truthful emotions of living in our later decades: grieving, wanting love and touching, distressed about how our older bodies look and act (or don't act), wanting and fearing to start a relationship after a devastating loss, and finally hurtling towards sex and love with a new person – or being content alone for now.
The film offers enough provocative topics to spice up an after-film discussion with a date or pals and terrific acting from an ensemble cast, especially Len Cariou and Brenda Vaccaro as the latest members of the Boynton Beach Bereavement Club. That's right – the "club" of the title is a social club for people who have recently lost their spouses.
These seniors are in touch with the modern age. Lois (Dyan Cannon) and Donald (Michael Nouri) go inline skating on their second date. Marilyn's husband is run over by a woman chattering on a cell phone. Marilyn (Brenda Vaccaro) invites her friends to watch a porn video she found in her deceased husband's file drawer. Harry goes online to find dates (and lies about his age and the color and profuseness of his hair).
There are also enough cliches to annoy me, though: women who can't drive, men who can't cook, female vamps who descend on new widowers with tuna casserole and invitations, and of course the obligatory scene of a man buying Viagra from a loud and indiscreet drugstore clerk.
I was disappointed when the first kissing and groping scene of the movie involved the best looking, youngest looking and slimmest couple: Dyan Cannon and Michael Nouri. How Hollywood, I thought, to reserve lust for the babe and the hunk of the group.
I was pleasantly surprised to see lust and sex revisited with Jack (Len Cariou, with a realistic paunchy belly) and Sandy (Sally Kellerman). An especially touching moment was when Sandy bared her breasts, and Jack recoiled. She thought he found her aging body ugly; it was actually because he was still grieving for his wife ("my best friend and companion for 45 years") – it was just too soon for him. The sweetest moment for me was when Jack shyly asked Sally, "Could we just cuddle?"
Boynton Beach Club is a comedy, but I'll remember the moments of emotional authenticity over the tired, cheap jokes ("Whatever you wear, evey man in the place will be drooling." "Big deal. Most of them are already drooling."). We all want to love and be loved, touch and be touched, and we all crave (and sometimes fear) the act of giving ourselves – mind, spirit, and body -- to another person. This movie made me happy to see our human emotions portrayed honestly – those human emotions that don't change just because we've got wrinkles in front of us and decades behind us