Monday, November 01, 2010
old and kicking
Old geezer fantasies are a classic recipe for Hollywood. The last two Indiana Jones flicks being perfect examples -- especially, Kingdom of the Numbskulls, or whatever it was titled.
To avoid the few children that come begging for candy on Halloween, I headed off to the movies on Sunday night. And saw one of the best geezer fantasies I have seen in some time.
The best of those films usually involves an older man retired from some physical activity, who returns to his old job and shows up all the young pups. Sometimes, he even gets to indulge in the pornography fantasy of winning over the much-younger woman.
Red has it all. And does it well.
Bruce Willis is a retired Black Ops agent, whose bleak suburban life is spiced up by talking with a young government clerk, Mary-Louise Parker, about his lost pension check. A check he destroys monthly merely to continue the flirting.
All of that changes when an assassination squad tries to bump him off. The plot goes on a roller coaster spin where Willis kidnaps Parker and joins forces with Morgan Freeman (who trots out his noble Mandela for us), John Malkovich (who can play loony and paranoid with the best), and Helen Mirren (imagine Elizabeth II as Annie Oakley).
Willis's old gang -- and his new love interest, Parker -- then take on the entire power structure of the United States to do The Right Thing. What that Thing is doesn't really matter. It is the fact that old people are doing it -- and doing it well.
Watching Bruce Willis pummel a twenty-something agent in an old-fashioned bar fight is enough to get the Geritol Set's blood rushing.
But this isn't all fantasy. Three years ago, several Americans on a cruise were visiting Costa Rica. Three robbers accosted them and demanded their valuables. An American, in his 70s, put one of the robbers in a head lock and broke the robber's clavicle. The two other robbers fled. The injured man died.
I remember when that story appeared in the newspapers. The guy who defended his fellow cruisers was an immediate hero. To no one's surprise he was a retired Marine. My Marine friends like to point out: "Once a Marine, always a Marine."
Red is a fantasy. But it has a germ of truth in it. Many of us may be retired, but we are not gone.
And we have a lot of good years to offer. Just not in our old jobs.