A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Just Getting Started is a light action comedy starring an ensemble of actors over 60, including Academy Award winners Morgan Freeman and Tommy Lee Jones, as well as Rene Russo, Joe Pantoliano, and the late Glenne Headly. Considering that the plot centers around active (and sexually active) seniors, it's unlikely to appeal to teens, but families should note that these retirees aren't sweet little grandparents: They drink (as well as smoke/vape), gamble, and hook up -- a lot. (At the beginning of the movie, Freeman's character is clearly seeing three women at once, who wait for him in bed, the bath, etc.) They also swear (mostly "s--t," but there's also one F-bomb in the script). Expect some action violence, as there's a hit out against one character. There are explosions and a few scenes of gun violence, and one person is taken hostage. People shoot at one another, but there's only one serious injury.
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What's the story?
JUST GETTING STARTED follows Duke Diver (Morgan Freeman), the unofficial "mayor" of Villa Capri, a luxury retirement community in Palm Springs, California. Duke leads an ideal life: He has a killer golf game, three 60-something girlfriends, and a squad of fawning cronies. But his status is threatened by the arrival of rich, arrogant Renaissance Man Leo (Tommy Lee Jones). Making matters worse for Duke is that the resort community's corporate overlords have sent Suzie (Rene Russo), a by-the-books auditor, to figure out whether Duke should be fired for impropriety. Even worse is the fact that someone is clearly trying to kill Duke, who has some connection to an unnamed New Jersey mob wife (Jane Seymour) who's put out a hit on him, presumably for snitching on her imprisoned gangster husband.
Is it any good?
With two Academy Awards and plenty of great performances between them, Freeman and Jones are far too talented for this dreadful, unfunny senior comedy/adventure. While it's easy to understand why many older actors would take just about any big-screen role, you'd think Hollywood legends like these two stars wouldn't have to do phoned-in performances in lazily written films. What hope is there in Hollywood if two of the best actors of their generation must spend their golden years in drivel like this? Why can't filmmakers follow strong examples of movies with elderly ensembles like Cocoon, Red, On Golden Pond, and Grumpy Old Men that are still poignant, funny, and even action-packed?
Veteran director Ron Shelton, whose last film (Hollywood Homicide) came out more than a decade before Just Getting Started, doesn't seem to know what kind of movie he wants to make: a thriller, a love-triangle romcom, or a buddy comedy/adventure. None of it comes together, even with established and acclaimed supporting characters like Joe Pantoliano, comedian George Wallace, Graham Beckel, Elizabeth Ashley, and the late Glenne Headly, in her final on-screen performance. The comedic parts aren't funny (like when the live camels in a living nativity run away, or when Freeman and the ladies exchange overt innuendo), and the action parts aren't dramatic. Basically, very little is surprising or redeeming in the story. On the bright side, the actors look like they must have enjoyed the sunny desert where they shot the film. Still, there's really no reason to recommend this comedy other than its cast.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the violence in Just Getting Started. Was it believable or comical? Does violence have less impact in comedies than in dramas? Why do you think that is?
Who do you think the movie's target audience is? Why? Do you think younger viewers can appreciate movies about older characters?
- In theaters: December 8, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: February 27, 2018
- Cast: Morgan Freeman, Tommy Lee Jones, Rene Russo
- Director: Ron Shelton
- Studio: Broad Green Pictures
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Friendship, Holidays
- Run time: 91 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: language, suggestive material and brief violence
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