Young at Heart (2008)

I feel guilty for not liking Young@Heart much. Older people find enjoyment and meaning in their lives by participating in a chorus where they get to sing rock songs. There’s a fabulous video for “I Wanna Be Sedated,” which takes on a whole new meaning when performed by the over-60 (and mostly over-80) singers. And when you say you don’t like a documentary about happy singing elderly people, you wonder what’s next on your hit list — LOLcats? The Princess Bride? Judd Apatow films? (Um, err …) Despite this, I was impatient for the movie to end and have reservations about recommending it to anyone.
The focus of this documentary is fairly straightforward: Young At Heart, a choral group of senior citizens, has changed their repertoire in recent years to rock music, with new arrangements of a variety of songs like “I Feel Good,” “Forever Young,” and so forth. The filmmakers follow a few of the group’s members in their daily lives, getting to know them and understanding how important Young At Heart is to them in terms of friendship and so forth. We see rehearsals in which the group struggles with some songs and arrangements, like a tongue-twisting Allen Toussaint tune. These sequences are interspersed with music videos of the group, showing us that older people can be feisty musicians too. Inevitable tragedies occur, but the show must go on.

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Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)

This is one of those movies I saw on a whim at SXSW. I was supposed to see something at Alamo on South Lamar, but changed plans at the last minute — I was already parked downtown, figured I ought to go to at least one splashy Paramount premiere, and wanted the chance to hang out with a bunch of other film writers who were planning to attend. Now you know the highly scientific process film critics use to determine their festival schedules.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall is a little difficult to review because I enjoyed the experience of watching the film at a packed Paramount theater, and it made me laugh a whole lot, but it wasn’t very good. If a film makes you laugh that much, shouldn’t it be “good” even if the plot is lame? On the other hand, if I’d seen this movie at a sparsely attended press screening, or watched it alone on DVD, would I have enjoyed it nearly as much? Judging by the fact that I have absolutely no desire whatsoever to see it again, I think the experience itself contributed greatly to my enjoyment.

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