Sunday, May 15, 2016

Hanging with the Coopers

Forever Young
Director: Steve Miner
Cast: Mel Gibson, Elijah Wood, Jamie Lee Curtis, Joe Morton, George Wendt
Released: December 16, 1992

OMG, you guys, eleven-year-old Elijah Wood is sooooo cute! Super cute! Someday I will tell you my Elijah Wood story, but that will go better with one of his other movies which I plan on reviewing soon. But before we get to eleven-year-old Elijah Wood in "modern day" 1992, we must first start with 36-year-old Mel Gibson in 1939 small town, California. Gibson plays Daniel McCormick, a U.S. Army test pilot. He has a best friend named Harry (George Wendt) who is a scientists and a longtime girlfriend named Helen who he plans on asking to marry, but keeps chickening out. I'm not really sure why because she seems to be just as into him as he is into her. But for some reason, he just can't get up the courage to ask her to marry him.

Right after his many (failed) attempts of getting up the nerve to ask the big question while they're at a diner, Helen tells him she has to go or she'll be late for work. While dashing across the street, she ends up getting hit by a car. She goes into a coma and six months pass without her waking up even though the doctors said she should have woken up two months ago. Because she hasn't woken up yet, the doctors are grim about her chances of recovery. A distraught Daniel stays at her bedside every night, not knowing what to do with himself.

Harry, his scientist friend, has told Daniel about his latest experiment: he plans to freeze somebody for a year in the chamber coffin he built to test cryonics on humans. His initial test subject has backed out and Daniel begs Harry to let him do it since he has no family and doesn't want to be around when Helen finally does die. A bit hesitant at first, Harry finally agrees since there isn't exactly anybody else volunteering for the job. Well, guess who dies in that year that Daniel is serving as a human popsicle? No, it's not Mel Gibson because then the movie would already be over. It's Harry. I guess he drank himself to death at the Cheers bar! And Harry was the only one who knew about the's just like in Face/Off when the only people who knew John Travolta had his face switched with a mad man were the two FBI agents and the doctor...all of who were brutally murdered. The only difference is that in this movie, Harry isn't brutally murdered...he just died.

Fast forward 53 years later to the sumer of 1992 in the same small town in California. This is when we meet (super cute!) Nat Cooper (Elijah Wood) who lives with his single mom, Claire (Jamie Lee Curtis) and is spending the summer hanging out with his friend, Felix. (I guess he was named after a cat?) They're the ones who discover the frozen Daniel in his coffin chamber that is located in an old, abandoned warehouse. They accidentally open the chamber and think they've stumbled upon a frozen dead guy, only Daniel wakes up and grabs Nat's jacket. The kids run away, screaming, the jacket left behind.

When Nat gets home, he tells his mom the truth about how he lost his jacket, but she doesn't believe him. Where do you think this ranks in the "truths that nobody believes" Elijah Wood tells people in his movies? We have "a frozen guy in a chamber located in an abandoned warehouse took my jacket." There's "my cousin, who everyone thinks is a great kid, is actually a sociopath and is doing terrible, terrible things" and "the teachers at my school are being overtaken by aliens." Those are the only ones I can think of off the top of my head. I feel compared to the other ones, this is fairly tame and can be laughed away by a kid with an active imagination. To her credit, Claire does seem amused by her son's story. She probably wouldn't be as amused if he told her his cousin was killing everyone or the teachers at his school were all aliens.

I don't know anything about cryonics, so maybe it's possible for a human to be frozen for 53 years and not die from, oh, I don't know, lack of food? But Daniel "wakes up" and is exactly how he looked in 1939. Good thing he has that jacket because he is nude so he can use it to cover himself until he steals some clothes that are hanging on a clothesline. He sees a sign advertising the 1992 Air Show and mutters, "Oh, brother." Okay, that has got to be a callback to Sam Beckett and all his "Oh, boy!" exclamations he utters in Quantum Leap, right?!? It would make perfect sense since this movie came out while that show was on. Maybe J. J. Abrams is a fan? Yes, he wrote the screenplay! He's credited as Jeffrey Abrams, though.

He tries to look up Harry in the phone book (does he really think he would still be alive after all these years? He was older than Daniel!), but since he has a common last name, the task proves to be a little difficult. He goes to the military headquarters where he demands to speak to whoever's in charge and proceeds to tell his story to a man who clearly thinks he's a lunatic. Conveniently, he still has Nat's windbreaker which has his name and address on the inside label so he goes to his house where Nat and Felix freak out and try to defend themselves with a hammer. After he calms them down, Nat lets him use his phone and Felix offers to steal clothes from his dad's closet for him. They take him to the library where Nat shows him how to use the microfiche machine so he can look up old newspaper articles. When they learn of Daniel's occupation, Nat exclaims, "Oh my God, Felix, we found a pilot!" like they found a puppy. He is very into aviation although the film could have done a little better job of portraying this.

Nat sees the redhead girl from his class who he has a crush on and attempts to talk to her (because who doesn't love redheads, haha!). "Hypothetically" speaking, if I were an 11-year-old redhead girl in the summer of '92 I would be all over this kid because he is soooooooooooooooooooooo cute! I mean, who else is she going to like? His little friend from Don't Tell Mom, the Baby-Sitter's Dead? No, I don't think so. He's not cute! Nat tells her he likes her dress and that it looks like wallpaper, which it does. It's funny because it's true! At one point, Daniel looks over and Nat smiles at him and gives him a "Yeah, I got this!" look. Cracks me up every time. Unfortunately, he does not have this because the girl only shows interest in him for a second, then ignores him. Crazy redhead! He is the cutest! But she comes to her senses in a later scene when she smiles at him after he sings to her (and after I died from the adorableness!).

Nat lets Daniel stay in his tree house and brings him food and a history book. He tells him he has to go (perhaps to a junior Council of Elrond meeting?), but first needs validation about his tree house. Once he has Daniel's approval that it's nice, he seems happy and leaves. While he's gone, an ex-boyfriend of Claire's has stopped by and is being aggressive with her. Daniel enters the house and punches the guy. After the guy leaves, Daniel is smart to tell Claire that he was just taking a walk when he passed her house and heard the commotion. Good call not telling her the truth that he was actually camping out in her son's tree house. Cuz that's not creepy!

To Nat's delight, Claire lets Daniel stay for a few days and makes up the couch for him. Yes, she just lets a total stranger stay with them! It's so weird! What kind of mother is she? All she knows about him is that he's a pilot. I don't even remember if they explain why, duh, he can't stay at his own house. Maybe he said he was out of town? But they have hotels! They just need him to stay at their house to fulfill some plot lines like have a five second romance between Daniel and Claire (both are already spoken for so of course it doesn't go anywhere...oh, and he's technically 50 years older than she is!) and being a father figure for Nat.

Nat wants Daniel to teach him how to fly, but the pilot tells him he cannot because he doesn't have a plane or a flight jacket so Nat comes home one day and gives Daniel a flight jacket he apparently bought for him. Uh...where did this kid get the money to buy that? Maybe Jamie Lee Curtis has a secret stash of money in a cookie jar like she did in My Girl? (Which were found by Elijah Wood's evil movie cousin! "Hey, where are all the cookies?") They use the tree house as the plane and there's a Lite Brite (!!) involved with the airspeed indicator (uh...maybe?) made on it. After the "lesson", Daniel, being in his 80s, starts to get sick and falls out of the tree and Nat finds someone to take him to the hospital. This entire scene has some horrible continuity. When Nat comes in to give Daniel the jacket, it was raining outside and Elijah Wood's clothes and hair are soaked and he looks like an adorable drowned rat. Then when they're in the treehouse, his hair is dry! But it's still raining because you can see it! Then when Daniel drops out of the tree house and Nat is running to find someone to help him, he gets soaked again. Then at the hospital when he's telling his mom about Daniel (she's there because she's a nurse), his hair is dry again! WTF?

Joe Morton is highly underused in this movie. Show the guy some respect; he's the (would be) creator of Skynet, for God's sake! He's only in a couple scenes at the end. He plays a government official who finds out about Daniel's story and is trying to get to him, but Nat and Claire sneak him out of the hospital with the help of Claire's doctor boyfriend. They find another lead and this time it's Harry's daughter who tells Daniel that her father died before she was born (oh, yeah, Harry announced his wife was pregnant at the beginning of the movie so this wasn't a big shock). It is revealed, however, that Helen is still alive (and was even married but her husband is now deceased, whew!) and she lives on some island off the coast. Good job, Mel Gibson, you just wasted the last 50 years of your life in a coffin chamber when you could have spent it with your paramour. Although, that's really Harry's fault for dying (and not telling anybody about his project!!). I'd be a little upset if I were him. However, he's happy that Helen is alive and wants to see her so they drive to an airfield where there's a B-25, the kind of plane that he flew in the '30s. Guess who sneaked on board? Nat claims he did it because Daniel "forgot his jacket". Please, kid. You just want to be on the plane because it's cool. It turns out to be a good thing he's there because Daniel is physically aging and all the health problems of the last 50 years have seem to caught up with him. If you haven't already guessed, the treehouse plane lesson scene was foreshadowing and Nat has to take the controls while Daniel tells him what to do. He screams, "Oh, crap, oh crap!" which I highly doubt is the word of choice anybody in that position would actually say! He also pleads to Daniel, "Don't die, okay!"

But of course everything is fine and he somehow manages to land without crashing and Daniel is reunited with Helen and and they adopt Nat as their grandson (well, they probably did!). There's a lot (A LOT) of plot holes in this movie, but I find it enjoyable to watch. Have I mentioned how adorable eleven-year-old Elijah Wood is?

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