’80 For Brady’ and Friends: The Boomer Buddy Comedy Never Dies

Geezers need excitement, too

80 for Brady and the upcoming Book Club 2 are the latest in a recent trend of comedies about aging boomers featuring starry, Oscar-winning casts. Buddy movies featuring older actors are not a new concept, but as a generation of stars matures they’re finding roles that place their age front and center. Whether they’re just looking for a little fun or planning one last hurrah, the olds are sure to meet with opposition from the younger generation, most often their own meddling children. And there will be Viagra jokes. Let’s break down some of the more recent examples:

Book Club (2018)

The crew: Diane (Diane Keaton), Vivian (Jane Fonda), Carol (Mary Steenburgen), and Sharon (Candice Bergen)

The scheme: Four longtime friends read the 50 Shades of Grey series, causing them to act on their own romantic desires, much to the dismay of their children and partners. While the ladies claim to be inspired by the steamy books, their escapades don’t get much spicier than wearing a short dress or sharing a pool float while fully clothed.

The age-appropriate love interest: It’s a cornucopia! Diane is wooed by a suave pilot played by Andy Garcia. Vivian repeatedly negs perfectly nice radio DJ, Don Johnson. Carol sexually harasses and drugs her husband, Craig T. Nelson. Richard Dreyfuss and Wallace Shawn are both potential dates for Sharon.

The meddling kids: Diane’s daughters display a jaw-dropping degree of smug overprotective behavior, including bullying her into moving into their slip-resistant basement apartment and stalking her via her iPhone.

How many Oscars has the cast won? 4

Does it end with a wedding or funeral? Ok, technically neither; however, there are at least two new couples who seem headed for a long(ish)-term relationship.

Last Vegas (2013)

The crew: Billy (Michael Douglas), Paddy (Robert DeNiro), Archie (Morgan Freeman), and Sam (Kevin Kline)

The scheme: The Flatbush Four, best friends since the 1950s, reunite in Las Vegas for a spur-of-the-moment bachelor party, as one of them plans to marry a much younger woman. The friends embark on a weekend of drinking, gambling, and leering in a version of Las Vegas predominantly populated by large-breasted women in their 20s. It must be mentioned that at one point Redfoo, of the band LMFAO, repeatedly thrusts and waggles his crotch into the face of Robert DeNiro, and DeNiro does not kill him.

The age-appropriate love interest: Mary Steenburgen, as sassy lounge singer Diana, catches the attention of both Billy and Paddy.

The meddling kids: Archie seems to be kept on house arrest by his overprotective son who tracks him from New Jersey to Vegas using his iPhone.

How many Oscars has the cast won? 7

Does it end with a wedding or funeral? Wedding! The Flatbush Four never say die!

Poms (2019)

The crew: Martha (Diane Keaton), Sheryl (Jackie Weaver), and six other women including Rhea Perlman and Pam Grier, who unfortunately don’t get much screen time

The scheme: After a cancer diagnosis, Martha sells her home and moves to the Sun Springs retirement community to live out her remaining months. With support of horny neighbor Sheryl, Martha forms a cheerleading club for residents. The club faces opposition and ridicule from the community manager, overbearing children, and society at-large as they practice for the resident talent show, or perhaps an even bigger stage.

The age-appropriate love interest: Surprisingly none, despite the presence of Bruce McGill as a security guard sympathetic to the cause. Grier seems happily married, but Perlman probably killed her husband.

The meddling kids: One club member’s overbearing son scoffs at the very idea that the club would have uniforms. He also pulls his mother from the squad and threatens to sue them after she’s injured.

How many Oscars has the cast won? 1

Does it end with a wedding or funeral? Funeral. To be fair, the filmmakers did insert “Chekov’s cremation fireworks” in the first act.

Going in Style (2017)

The crew: Joe (Michael Caine), Willie (Morgan Freeman), and Bert (Alan Arkin)

The scheme: After losing their pensions and facing eviction, three longtime friends hatch a plan to rob the bank that froze the pension fund. Since they have no criminal experience, they enlist a professional crook to coach them. Along the way they manage to stay one step ahead of the law. This is a remake of a 70s comedy starring George Burns, himself a pioneer in geezer hijinks cinema.

The age-appropriate love interest: In one of the most implausible parts of the film, Bert repeatedly rebuffs the advances of Annie, played by Ann-Margret. He eventually deigns to sleep with her.

The meddling kids: Joe’s daughter and granddaughter live with him, but mostly stay out of his business. It’s unclear if they are even aware of the looming eviction.

How many Oscars has the cast won? 4

Does it end with a wedding or funeral? Wedding! And a puppy! Robbing a bank has no unpleasant consequences!

Let Them All Talk (2020)

The crew: Alice (Meryl Streep), Roberta (Candice Bergen), and Susan (Dianne Wiest)

The scheme: Novelist Alice is scheduled to receive a literary prize in England, so she invites two longtime friends to accompany her on the transatlantic crossing. Since this film is directed by Steven Soderbergh in an understated comedic style, at first glance it seems like the odd one out on this list. However, it is basically the art-house version of Book Club. Alice even tries to get her friends to read the same obscure volume of Welsh poetry.

The age-appropriate love interest: Unfortunately for Candy Bergen, the likes of Wallace Shawn and Richard Dreyfuss are not to be found on this ship! However, an author of best-selling thrillers (Daniel Algrant) shows romantic potential by the time the film ends.

The meddling kids: Alice’s nephew comes along to “take care of these lovely old women” and spies on Alice in order to feed information about her new manuscript to her literary agent.

How many Oscars has the cast won? 5

Does it end with a wedding or funeral? Funeral. This is highbrow cinema, after all.

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Lani Gonzalez

Lani Gonzalez has appeared as a guest programmer on Turner Classic Movies and occasionally writes about what she sees at Cinema Then and Now.

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