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Blu-ray Review: Cocoon

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Written by Senora Bicho

Cocoon was released in 1985. I remember seeing it in the theater and my memory is that of a cute story involving old people and Steve Guttenberg. Watching it over 20 years later sparked a very different opinion.

The movie follows a group of friends living in a retirement community. The main focus is on three men of the group, each experiencing a different difficulty that comes with age. Ben (Wilford Brimley) fails an eye test and has his driver's license revoked, Joe (Hume Cronyn) has untreatable cancer, and Arthur (Don Ameche) has lost his ability with the ladies. The trio escape their daily lives by trespassing onto a vacant neighboring estate to swim in the pool and enjoy the little bit of danger their law-breaking provides.

The action then cuts to a mysterious group of four that hires Jack Bonner (Steve Guttenberg) to be their guide for a diving expedition. Jack is relieved for the job since he is broke and desperately needs the money. It is revealed the group is renting the vacant estate and through the course of the expedition they bring up large pods and deposit them into the pool. The old men continue to swim in the pool and start immediately feeling younger and more alive. Ben gets his eyesight back, Joe's cancer goes into remission, and all of the men become frisky. While everything seems to be working out well, Jack and the old men realize there is something very different about the group and soon discover their secret. This forces them all to make decisions that will have a lasting impact on the rest of their lives.

The DVD includes an audio commentary by Ron Howard, likely from a previous DVD release, as are the five very short making-of featurettes, which are disappointing and do not offer much interesting information.

The video is presented with a 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC encoded transfer looks good enough for its age but is nothing to write home about. The source is clean but can be soft at times. Grain is apparent and the image can be dark at times. The audio is more impressive presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. The dialogue is clear and understandable. The surrounds offer minor ambiance, particularly water effects, and music.

I have mixed emotions on my review. There are portions of the story involving the retirees that are endearing and enjoyable. However, the denouement is confusing. The message of the movie is touted as being about love, friendship, and the human spirit but some of the choices the characters make are not in line with this and don't make sense. The Steve Guttenberg storyline is painful at best. I never thought he was a great actor but here he is downright awful. He is never believable or genuine and one particular scene is beyond ridiculous. For the reasons mentioned, I can't wholeheartedly recommend Cocoon. There is especially no reason to purchase the Blu-ray version since the special effects don't hold up and are mostly distracting. Instead of wasting two hours watching this, use those two hours to enjoy the preciousness of life which is what the movie would tell you to do anyways.

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