When Mel Gibson starred in Forever Young in 1992, it was probably an attempt to break away from the wild man of Mad Max and Lethal Weapon. He actually proves to be quite likable as a romantic lead, and makes Forever Young a sweet, endearing romantic fable. In 1939, Mel plays Captain Daniel McCormick, an Air Force test pilot. No stranger to danger, he is willing to brave the latest experimental aircraft, but he's unable to take the biggest risk of all, proposing to his girlfriend, Helen. Every time Daniel tries to work up the courage to pop the question, he loses his bottle. So he decides to wait. Unfortunately, he waits too long. Helen is run down in an accident, and slips into a coma. Daniel can't live without her, and decides to volunteer for a risky experiment. Daniel's best friend Harry Finley (George Wendt) is one of the first scientists working on cryogenics. He has yet to test his theories on a living, human subject. Daniel decides to go for it, where he will be placed into a capsule and frozen for a year. If Helen ever wakes up, Harry wakes up Daniel. But of course, things don't go the way they're supposed to. When World War II breaks out, the cryogenics experiment falls through the cracks. Harry is killed, and as a result, Daniel is forgotten about. He stays frozen in the capsule for over 50 years. Daniel is eventually thawed out by two boys, Nat and Felix (Nat is played by a young Elijah Wood). Daniel wakes to find the world has become a very different place. Staying with Nat and his mother Claire (the delightful Jamie Lee Curtis), Daniel tries to piece together the last 50 years. To enjoy Forever Young, you will probably have to suspend disbelief quite a bit. The story itself is rather outrageous, but on a simple level, it's fairly enjoyable. It has more than a few shades of Back to the Future about it. In the same way Robert Zemeckis brought a Frank Capra style of storytelling to BTTF, the director Steve Miner also brings a gentle, benign touch to this story. The greatest discovery of all is the fact that Mel Gibson manages to make this film work. He makes for a very endearing character when he is lost in the 1990's. His amazement at the new world is played in a very understated fashion. His confusion and old-fashioned naiveté are subtly incorporated into the story, e.g. discovering filtered cigarettes, seat-belts, answering machines, etc. What's nice about his performance is also the fact that Daniel was brought up in different times. He has a completely different set of values compared to the cynical attitudes of the present day. I like the scene where Daniel saves Claire from an abusive ex-boyfriend, or when he gets to sit in the cockpit of an old-fashioned test plane. This type of story could have become very mawkish, but Steve Miner manages to find just the right focus, and balances events just right. Jamie Lee Curtis adds sterling support as always, and she gets a lot of good scenes with Gibson. Elijah Wood also puts in an excellent performance, showing incredible maturity for his age. He acts as Daniel's guide while he is in the 90's, and proves invaluable in putting together what happened to Daniel's past. He plays Nat as neither too precocious or too juvenile, and went on to the fame that he deserved. In some eyes, Forever Young has an improbably happy ending, where Daniel is reunited with Helen. But I didn't mind this time round. Probably because I was enjoying myself too much. I especially like the scene where Daniel teaches Nat to fly in his tree-house. Watch the camera angles, and you sometimes feel as if they really are flying a plane. Forever Young wouldn't win any awards for originality, but if they gave out awards for heartwarming stories, Forever Young would definitely be up for a nomination.
Drama / Romance / Sci-Fi
Drama / Romance / Sci-Fi
During a cryogenics test, a pilot frozen in 1939 awakes in 1992 but time is running out, as his body starts to age rapidly.
June 15, 2020