Saturday, December 30, 2006

Movies and the Fountain of Youth

-- Actor, Writer, Producer, Director -- is 58 years old. In spite of gerontological concerns, Sly has chosen to again portray the eponymous characters in Rocky Balboa (2006) and Rambo IV: Pearl of the Denture (2008). Dirty Little Secret: They had to make the boxing ring wheelchair accessible. As for Rambo, betcha didn't know his rations included Ensure.

63-year-old is reprising the lead in Indiana Jones 4: The Search for Metamucil (2008). By the way, Indiana Jones was voted the 2nd greatest hero of all time by the , just behind Atticus in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), according to the Internet Movie Database. The vote was cast long before the candles on Indiana's cake weighed more than the frosting.

Bad jokes and cliches aside, I wonder why a few older actors continue to secure unlikely roles. Are Sly and Harry so incredibly talented and charismatic that we are easily hypnotized into suspending our disbelief? Maybe.

And "what's up with these old farts continuing to indulge themselves as action heroes?," you ask. Well, if you had the money and leverage to defy stereotypes by convincing folks you were still in your prime, wouldn't you at least try? Hey, Cher's been doing it for years. I'm a Baby Boomer, too, but even I knew when it was time to stop wearing short skirts and low-cut tops.

Only by Hollywood standards can sexy granddads be seen magically leaping, punching and taking loads of physical abuse way past eligibility. Meanwhile, a ton of Americans don't have the means to get out of debt, let alone afford the air brushing, CG, soft focus, lighting tricks, editing, girdles, stunt doubles, personal trainers, make up, and plastic surgery it takes to convince others we're still studs and babes. I wonder -- just how many accommodations do actors and filmmakers have to make to maintain the fantasy?

I admit that certain movie roles are timeless. There are some characters we'll accept getting older, like Columbo, Matlock and Captain Kirk. But for action heroes? There is a physical reality.

At some point, audiences (or actors) either have to let these heroes go or face the truth in the most recent James Bond film. To maintain a story's credibility, younger actors eventually have to take over the action-packed roles. In Million Dollar Baby (2004), Clint Eastwood had the good sense to pass the physically-demanding torch on to someone else.

Sure, I'll probably go see these sequels and enjoy them, in spite of myself. Maybe it's because these old guys originated these roles. Maybe it's because I can't imagine anyone else playing Rocky or Indiana Jones. Or maybe it's because I still love these characters and predictable storylines for what they represent -- the belief that my generation is still young, even if it's only for 120 minutes.

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