Boynton Beach Club: Movie veterans bravely try to liven up well-intentioned but shamelessly conventional romantic comedy-drama
Set in Florida, Susan Seidelman’s Boynton Beach Club revolves around the emotional and romantic travails of a half-dozen denizens of one of those sterile, Truman Show-like communities for the sixty-and-over crowd. Despite the film’s well-intentioned premise – love and sex can be found and enjoyed later in life – Boynton Beach Club fails to fulfill its promise because director-screenwriter Seidelman and co-screenwriter Shelly Gitlow opted for a narrative that is as formulaic as a 1950s sitcom.
Based on a story by Florence Seidelman (the filmmaker’s mother, who also received producer credit) and former TV actor David Cramer, Boynton Beach Club starts out as a cell-phone chatterbox (Renée Taylor) runs over an elderly jogger while backing out of her driveway. The man’s unmerry widow (Brenda Vaccaro) then joins the Boynton Beach Bereavement Club run by the evergreen Lois (Dyan Cannon), and where a recent widower (Len Cariou) relearns how to win a woman’s heart – and whatever else comes with it. Assorted entanglements ensue featuring the likes of an elderly ladies’-man wannabe (Joseph Bologna), a sex worker (Janice Hamilton), a sixty-something sex bomb (Sally Kellerman, baring her breasts), and a fifty-something Younger Man (Michael Nouri).
Boynton Beach Club: Lacking a subversive touch
Unfortunately, for a movie bursting with talent in front of the camera – Oscar nominees Dyan Cannon (Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, Heaven Can Wait), Brenda Vaccaro (Once Is Not Enough), Sally Kellerman (MASH) – it’s disheartening to see Boynton Beach Club‘s potentially humorous and/or dramatic scenes fall flat one after the other. Worse yet is the realization that those senior citizens are played by performers who dabbled in edgy films more than three decades ago. Where has all that great subversiveness gone?
On a positive note, Boynton Beach Club proves that Sally Kellerman remains hot-lipped after all these years. If only the filmmakers had been as brave and daring as she is.
Boynton Beach Club a.k.a. The Boynton Beach Bereavement Club (2005). Director: Susan Seidelman. Screenplay: Susan Seidelman and Shelly Gitlow, from a story by Florence Seidelman and David Cramer. Cast: Dyan Cannon, Brenda Vaccaro, Joseph Bologna, Sally Kellerman, Michael Nouri, Len Cariou, Renée Taylor, Janice Hamilton, Mal Z. Lawrence.
Joseph Bologna, Dyan Cannon in Susan Seidelman’s Boynton Beach Club photo: Roadside Attractions / Samuel Goldwyn Films.