Cocoon

Movie review by
Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media
Cocoon Movie Poster Image
Sex talk, language make iconic '80s sci-fi better for teens.
  • PG-13
  • 1985
  • 117 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 2 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Depiction of how elderly are neglected and underestimated in modern society, or just plain expected to do nothing and die meekly. The aliens instead offer the old humans a chance to lead "productive lives" again. Just not on Earth. Some characters argue ethics of cheating death and what price one would pay. The miraculous return of youth also rekindles negative traits among some of the elderly.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The Antareans are surely among the nicest space beings Hollywood ever conjured. Police, moms, coast guard, and other authority figures are unhelpful and/or menacing, as in E.T.: The Extraterrestrial. People without much power in society, like the elderly and children, seem more trustworthy. The old folks aren't angels, though. They swear, break rules, and one of them cheats on his wife.

Violence

A fistfight. A nameless extra in cardiac arrest undergoes elecroshock. A helpless alien dies of old age.

Sex

Elderly characters have sex -- mostly within marriage, though one commits infidelity. The lovemaking is all off camera, but they sure talk about it. Two other characters have human-alien intimacy -- which is a mostly no-touching, energy-field deal, but clearly orgasmic. An alien disguised as a pretty young earthling is naked from the rear. The young male lead spies on her while she undresses. Talk of "boner" erections.

Language

The s-word, "ass, "hell," "Jesus Christ," "Goddamned," "ball sack," "crap," "fart," and the other f-word once.

Consumerism

A joke reference to the Pillsbury Dough Boy. Some product labels and car models.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Social and saloon drinking. There are suspicions voiced that the disguised alien expedition are "dope peddlers" and that the fountain-of-youth pool is some kind of cocaine stash.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know there is fairly regular swearing in this seriocomic sci-fi tale, including one shocked f-word, but maybe even more troubling for young viewers is the strong theme of mortality and sweet old grandparent-like characters (and nice-guy aliens) dying, or going away forever. Much is made of the elderly having sex -- nothing shown, but there's plenty of sex talk and the general vibe of a Viagra commercial. Two other characters "share themselves" with human-alien intimacy, a no-touching, energy-field deal, but clearly orgasmic. An alien disguised as a pretty young earthling is naked from the rear and nude in a pool up to her collarbone. There is a subplot about marital infidelity and some fistfight-scuffling. In all the talk about end-of-life issues, nobody mentions religion at all --there's only one service shown briefly at the end -- but a grandfather's speech to his grandson about "going away" skyward, where nobody ages or dies, is sort of a metaphor.

User Reviews

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Teen, 17 years old Written bydavyborn January 18, 2012

Crude, crass, but moving sci-fi\fantasy is better for teens

Cocoon may be a derivative, horribly dated mess of a movie, but hwat a mess it is. Seriously, this is one of those movies that,w hile it misses the mark in near... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bySanjay407 November 25, 2011

Read

Change: Rated R: Mild Violence, Sexuality (includes a reference of a b*ner), Language, and a little over mild use of drugs

What's the story?

In a Florida retirement community, some senior citizens who try to stay adventurous to defy advancing age, disease, and mortality, decide to trespass in a nearby, empty mansion and use the swimming pool. Meanwhile a quartet of benign, luminous space beings have landed on Earth in human disguise. Renting the mansion and a boat from a rather goofball young fishing guide Jack (Steve Guttenberg), the "Antareans" carry out a retrieval mission to haul from the ocean floor their alien comrades, who have been dormant in "cocoons" for the past 10,000 years, ever since the sinking of Atlantis. Yes, the Antareans are that ageless, their life-energy making them practically immortal. The presence of the cocoons in the pool starts to rejuvenate the oldster Earthlings. Dapper Art (Don Ameche) starts romancing retired showgirls Bess (Gwen Verdon). Joe (Hume Cronyn) finds his cancer going away and his libido returning. Keeping the miracle pool a secret becomes a problem for the species of both planets.

Is it any good?

This isn't the only sci-fi based on the Fountain of Youth, but it is an uncommonly gentle one. It also makes a few serious points (blunted a bit by wish-fulfillment and special effects) about the plight of the aged in modern society. Elders here are poignantly marginalized, their "golden years" spent mostly waiting to die. Only one guy with a loving grandchild seems to have strong ties with the world outside the senior community, and it's a world that wants to revoke his driver's license (and thus his independence) because of bad eyesight.

There's a strong emotional undertone and some real tearjerking moments when aliens offer these seniors immortality. One wishes director Ron Howard had toned down the f/x-blitz finale and explored more thoroughly whether death/ loss are necessary to be human; the sequel Coccoon: The Return groped in that direction but came up mediocre.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the theme of immortality and rejuvenation and the choices the characters make regarding it. What do kids think of Bernie, who rejects the gift because it seems unnatural to him?

  • Talk about aging -- a theme still not addressed very plainly in youth-oriented Hollywood, and often couched in fantasy terms like 17 Again and Forever Young. Ask kids if they think about being old and what it might be like.

  • Discuss other tales of immortality and "fountains of youth" -- kids may know the violent Highlander series, too-many-to-name vampire dramas, even the Harry Potter novels, that ask how far one would go to live forever.

Movie details

For kids who love sci-fi

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