"Boynton Beach Club" was directed by early '80s indie queen Susan Seidelman ("Smithereens," "Desperately Seeking Susan"), but it was inspired by her mother Florence's experiences after she moved to an "active adult" community in Florida. A light ensemble comedy about falling in love past retirement age, it follows the romantic adventures of a group of seniors who meet through a local bereavement support group.
After Marilyn (Brenda Vaccaro) loses her husband to a crisply tanned elder driver who backs into him with her Mercury sedan, she reluctantly joins the Boynton Beach Bereavement Club at the suggestion of Lois (Dyan Cannon), a spunky, collagen-plumped widow in tight jeans and stilettos. Lois helps Marilyn adjust to life without her husband, learn how to drive again and manage her finances. In the meantime, she meets an attractive real estate developer (Michael Nouri) who seems almost too good to be true.
Also new to the club is Jack (Len Cariou), who has recently lost his wife to cancer. Jack is immediately taken under the wing of resident lady-killer Harry (Joseph Bologna). He also attracts the attention of Sandy (Sally Kellerman), who gently tries to coax him into a relationship before he's ready to move on.
Upbeat and occasionally self-consciously kooky, "Boynton Beach Club" doesn't exactly plumb the depths of the aging experience, but it has its moments of surprise and offers a look at life past the point where movies are generally interested. Harry's adventure in Internet dating is especially poignant, as are Jack's awkward attempts at courtship after years of routine early-bird special patronage with his wife. And Vaccaro is touching as a sheltered woman consumed with anger over her senseless and unexpected loss.
As a niche entertainment catering to an overlooked audience, "Boynton Beach Club" is remarkable mostly for its optimism and solid performances. Seidelman, who directed the pilot episode of "Sex and the City," approaches her subject in a similarly schematic but likable way, giving a refreshingly contemporary spin to the lives of an underrepresented group.
'Boynton Beach Club'
MPAA rating: Unrated
A Roadside Attractions/Samuel Goldwyn Films release. Director Susan Seidelman. Screenplay by Susan Seidelman and Shelly Gitlow. Producers Florence Seidelman, Susan Seidelman. Director of photography Eric Moynier. Editor Keiko Deguchi. Music by Marcelo Garvos.
Running time: 1 hour, 44 minutes.
In selected theaters.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times