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By Patrick Samuel • February 8th, 2014
Static Mass Rating: 4/5
20th Century Fox

Original release: June 21st, 1985
Running time: 117 minutes

Director: Ron Howard
Writers: Tom Benedek, David Saperstein
James Horner

Cast: Don Ameche, Wilford Brimley, Hume Cronyn, Brian Dennehy, Jack Gilford, Steve Guttenberg, Maureen Stapleton, Jessica Tandy, Gwen Verdon, Herta Ware, Tahnee Welch


Our twilight years are supposed to that time in our lives when we’ve stopped worrying about jobs, mortgages, taxes, bills and all the other things that occupy our minds from the moment we stop being teenagers and enter adulthood. It’s supposed the years we start to enjoy what we’ve spent our lives working for and building; our pensions, our homes, the garden we now have time to tend to, the holidays and cruises we can finally take and maybe even seeing our grandchildren, if only to spoil them rotten.

But life is never that simple. My father, in the last 10 years before he passed away, suffered from various health complications including his diminishing eyesight, kidney failure and diabetes and heart problems. These attributed to his final years being filled with much pain, worry and financial problems for him and my mom, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought back to this film and wished their twilight years together could’ve been similar.

Cocoon is loosely based on the novel by David Saperstein and focuses on the lives of a group of folks who live in a retirement home. Ben (Wilford Brimley), Arthur (Don Ameche) and Joe (Hume Cronyn) spend their days sneaking into a nearby abandoned property where they enjoy swimming and splashing around in a fully functional pool. The women in their lives, Mary (Maureen Stapleton), Alma (Jessica Tandy) and Bess (Gwen Verdon), put up with them because they love them, and because, at heart, they’re still the men they married all those years ago. There’s also Bernie (Jack Gilford), their grumpy friend who’s a stickler for the rules, and his wife Rose (Herta Ware), dutifully puts up with him as well.


Their lives change when one day Ben, Arthur and Joe discover a set of giant cocoons in the pool, but decide to swim in it anyway. Unknown to them, the pool’s been charged with “life force” by aliens from the planet Antarea. The cocooned aliens in the pool were recently pulled from the ocean by the Antareans who’ve now come back to take them home. Disguised as humans, they rented the house and left their friends in the pool to re-charge their energy before they’re all taken back to their home planet.

The effect the life force has on Ben, Arthur and Joe is remarkable to say the least. It rejuvenates them completely, and though they still look like senior citizens, they have all the energy of teenage boys, along with raging libidos, much to the surprise of their wives when they get home! For Joe, it means something more, the pool cures his cancer, but his returned energy causes him to wander off the marital path which puts a strain on his relationship with Alma.

The men discover the true identities of the property’s new tenants and realise why they’re all feeling so young again, but rather than remain skeptical and stare in disbelief (like characters tend to do in so many other films), they take this revelation in their stride and accept the fact that we aren’t the only ones occupying this marvelous superverse. CocoonUnfortunately, this also leads to Arthur breaking his promise and letting everyone at the retirement home join them in the pool and what follows is something like the scene from The Ten Commandments when Moses returns from Mount Sinai to see the Israelites partying like it’s 1999.

What’s wonderful about Cocoon is that it’s one of those rare films where the aliens aren’t here to obliterate Earth, enslave us or wipe us out – or do any of the things we’re quite capable of doing ourselves, instead they’re depicted as a peaceful race. What they offer Ben, Arthur, Joe, their wives and their friends is a wonderful gift, and one which they willingly accept, save for Bernie who sadly decides to let such an opportunity go.

It’s a film where there are no bad guys versus the good guys, there are no explosions, there are no weapons, the US government doesn’t resort to using nuclear bombs, thereby justifying why they should have them. No, Cocoon instead is a very human story about the ones our society tends to overlook; the elderly. By focusing on them we start to reflect on what our own twilight years might be like, or our parents’. We mightn’t be able to give them immortality, or space travel, but there’s so much more we can do to make it a little more easier for them, as one day our own children might do for us.


Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is an emerging artist with a philosophy degree, working primarily with pastels and graphite pencils, but he also enjoys experimenting with water colours, acrylics, glass and oil paints.

Being on the autistic spectrum with Asperger’s Syndrome, he is stimulated by bold, contrasting colours, intricate details, multiple textures, and varying shades of light and dark. Patrick's work extends to sound and video, and when not drawing or painting, he can be found working on projects he shares online with his followers.

Patrick returned to drawing and painting after a prolonged break in December 2016 as part of his daily art therapy, and is now making the transition to being a full-time artist. As a spokesperson for autism awareness, he also gives talks and presentations on the benefits of creative therapy.

Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and science fiction, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.

Patrick Samuel ¦ Asperger Artist

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