Finding it difficult to envision your golden years? Even if you’re used to the daily grind, the idea of never having to deal with getting up early, rushing breakfasts, crowded commutes, or long work days seems surreal.
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Themes in life can be explored through the lens of a film, and this is a great method to re-evaluate one’s lifestyle. If you’re looking for some motivation, reflection, or amusement, consider watching one of the many excellent retirement-themed films created by Hollywood. Some of our favorites are as follows:
1. Going in Style
Three elderly retirees who have known each other their entire lives and rely only on Social Security decide to commit bank robbery just for fun. Sitting on the same seat in the same park every day, talking about the same things, and feeding the same pigeons has gotten to the point where it has become tediously routine. They’re constantly on the lookout for new experiences. As long as they don’t get caught, it doesn’t matter to them. They were almost certainly going to perish soon.
George Burns, Art Carney, and Lee Strasberg play the three gentlemen with ease and grace, managing the quick humor as neatly as the deeper moments of grief and loss with equal ease and grace. These men’s twilight years allow us to get to know them in both their warmth and their melancholy in an enjoyable way.
2. On Golden Pond (1981)
It’s a typical theme for many people with aging parents: Rebuilding ties that were strained along the journey to maturity in On Golden Pond (1981), which has Katharine Hepburn, Henry Fonda, and Jane Fonda in leading roles. The elderly Norman Thayer (Henry Fonda) and his conciliatory wife Ethel (Katharine Hepburn) live a peaceful retirement in New England with their adult daughter Chelsea (Jane Fonda) and her fiancee Billy (Doug McKeon) on their way to Europe. Chelsea returns from her vacation with her son, but she leaves him behind to try to mend her damaged relationship with her father while she still has the chance. There is some hope in the film that people can at least pay a visit to their hometowns again.
3. Cocoon (1985)
Cocoon is the ideal retirement-themed comedy if you’re searching for a good laugh.
Cocoon (1985) is a comedy about perpetual youth in a fantasy world. Cozy and sweet, Cocoon follows a group of elderly Florida retirees who find renewed energy and vitality after swimming in a pool filled with alien cocoon pods that are capable of regenerating youth and vitality. Do they want eternal life or do they want to accept that they will die? Ageism is dealt with in a cheerful and humorous manner in the film.
4. Lost in America
An hilarious satire on the American dream, Lost in America was co-written and directed by Albert Brooks. A young married couple decides to take the leap and give up everything in order to pursue their wanderlust. When Albert Brooks’ character David Howard (played by Albert Brooks) is passed over for a promotion, he experiences a breakdown. His wife Linda (played by Julie Hagerty) agrees to leave her work and embark on a cross-country road journey with him, where they live as free spirits. Despite Linda’s exhaustion and David’s obliviousness, she’s at the end of her rope. So she succumbs to his Easy Rider fantasies: they buy a camper and set off on a road trip with “Born to Be Wild” playing in the background as they drive along. After a disastrous bank run in Las Vegas, the Linda family’s ambition of traveling across the country is dashed. Their old life, despite its shallowness, emptiness, and lack of fulfillment, was actually very pleasant to begin with, as they discover after losing all of their savings. It’s not your average retirement film, but in an age where many millennials are globetrotting in their early 30s in search of a romanticized lifestyle as a digital nomad: perhaps in search of a more rewarding work/life experience, it’s still relevant today.
5. About Schmidt (2002)
(2002)’s About Schmidt follows the lives of a newly retired man who is unable to find any inspiration in his daily routine. Jack Nicholson portrays a senior person named Warren Schmidt who finds himself in the middle of a chaotic series of events. He’s finally retiring after a dull career as an actuary at Woodmen of the World Insurance Company, and he’s feeling a bit confused. He is a man devoid of any innate desire to learn new things. Additionally, his 42-year-old wife has passed away unexpectedly, and his only daughter Jeannie (Hope Davis) is engaged to be married to a waterbed salesman whom he views as an idiot and charlatan. Things are about to get even worse for him because his life has been so boring up until now. A Winnebago journey is all that is left for him to salvage, so he sets out on a sabotage mission in the RV to thwart the marriage of his daughter. There will be a slow-emerging hunger for him to begin living now that his time is almost up when his journey brings him back into his past. Although most teenagers will not be interested in this film, Roger Ebert recommended that they see it in 2002. As a lesson to them, let it go. They could wind up like Schmidt if they define their lives solely in terms of a nice job, a good wage, and a pleasant suburban existence. This “mad English teacher” should be taken more seriously.