Movie review: 'Boynton Beach Club'

2 stars (out of four)

Seasoned character actors north of 60 or 70 shouldn't have to scrounge for films offering roles beyond the usual cranky, buffoonish comic relief. It's rewarding, therefore, to watch the cast of director/co-writer Susan Seidelman's Florida-set dramedy "Boynton Beach Club" mustering their best efforts, even if the script is longer on good intentions than on good dialogue.

The choicest line is delivered just so by Joe Bologna, as a "bereavement club" regular on the make. With a slight leer in his voice, Bologna mentions to one romantic prospect: "By the way … I can drive at night."

Len Cariou plays Jack, a recent widower and reluctant newcomer to the local retirement community's bereavement meetings. Harry (Bologna) befriends him, as does Sandy (Sally Kellerman). Dyan Cannon, sporting the latest version of her face, plays the hotsy-totsy yin to Brenda Vaccaro's zaftig, homey yang. Michael Nouri appears as Cannon's love interest with a secret, while Renee Taylor, sporting a George Hamilton tan, has a couple of scenes as the neighbor who doesn't check both ways when backing up a car.

Seidelman's mother and father live in Boynton Beach, and her mother takes a story credit as well as that of co-producer. The tone of "Boynton Beach Club" is milder and less Catskillian than what you might think, if your frame of reference is "Golden Girls." As scripted by director Seidelman and co-writer Shelly Gitlow, the romance between the wary Cariou and the free-spirited (and briefly topless) Kellerman rises above conventional narrative trappings. Maybe this was the heart of the picture; if so, it's too bad the couple gets lost amid the multiple, all-too-evenly balanced story lines.

The director got off to a fizzy start with "Smithereens" and "Desperately Seeking Susan." Here Seidelman's more interested in warm and fuzzy than in carbonation. That's fine, as far as this modest picture goes. But the actors deserve more, and better.

mjphillips@tribune.com

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'Boynton Beach Club'

Directed by Susan Seidelman; screenplay by Seidelman and Shelly Gitlow; cinematography by Eric Moynier; edited by Keiko Deguchi; production design by Kevin Kropp; music by Marcelo Zarvos; produced by Florence Seidelman and Susan Seidelman. A Roadside Attractions and Samuel Goldwyn Films release; opens Friday. Running time: 1:44. No MPAA rating (in the PG-13 range; parents cautioned for language and partial nudity).

Harry - Joe Bologna

Lois - Dyan Cannon

Jack - Len Cariou

Sandy - Sally Kellerman

Donald - Michael Nouri

Anita - Renee Taylor

Marilyn - Brenda Vaccaro

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