Wild Oats

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media
Wild Oats Movie Poster Image
Senior-citizen adventure-comedy is unlikely to engage teens.
  • PG-13
  • 2016
  • 86 minutes

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

Positive Messages

Don't give up until you're dead. There is fun to be had if you're willing to go after it. Don't write off your parents just because they've grown older. Friendships can be more meaningful than marriages.

Positive Role Models & Representations

An 80-year-old widow cashes a check for $5 million that she knows does not belong to her. She has an affair with a con man who takes her for 400,000 Euros. Her best friend drinks too much and seduces a far younger man. Two con men take advantage of the women. A man in his 60s leaves his wife for his younger secretary. Large sums of money are lost and won in a casino. A mobster's wife is cheating on him with a bodyguard pretending to be her brother. A woman complains that men are not interested in her IQ, only her physical assets.


Trying to get their money back from a notorious criminal, two women go to his house and threaten to break his expensive wine bottles. A guard shoots at them but there is no blood. A character seems to have cancer that's in remission. An insurance agent threatens to arrest Eva.


Two older women talk about missing sex. One kisses a man and goes to bed with him offscreen. The other finds a man decades her junior. They engage in passionate kissing, and she throws him on a bed. Afterward he reports that their liaison put his back out. A 60-year-old man leaves his wife for his much younger secretary. Viagra is mentioned.


"S--t," "f--k," "damn," "sucks," "t-ts," "ass," "p---y."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink alcohol, sometimes too much.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Wild Oats is a 2016 movie that originally debuted on Lifetime. It explores the trepidations and courage of seniors as they negotiate life and love after the age of retirement, not the usual preferred fare for tweens and teens. An older couple is seen in bed after sex. A woman in her 60s pushes a man in his 20s onto a bed, and it's later revealed that the sex was lively enough to throw out his back. While the main characters display admirable spunk, they also use money that does not belong to them. Adults drink to inebriation. Profanity includes "f--k," "s--t," and "p---y."

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What's the story?

In WILD OATS, Eva (Shirley MacLaine) receives a life insurance check after her husband's death, but, owing to a computer error, there are too many zeroes, giving her millions more than the policy provided. After frustrating attempts to get through the company's automated telephone system to report the error, she gives up, cashes the check, and takes an island vacation with her best friend Maddie (Jessica Lange), whose husband just left her for a younger woman. They have sexual and gambling adventures, get taken by scammers, and face armed killers when they try to get their money back. The fact that Eva was the best 10th-grade teacher many students ever had saves her in a dangerous moment.

Is it any good?

With such great actors, this movie has some appeal, but it could have been so much better. The script succeeds in depicting a close female friendship, and the actors exploit moments of universal truth that follow to the fullest. But for the most part the screenplay lets the actors down over and over, with its reliance on cliché and formula. Older people refuse to put up with BS. They make fun of the protocol of condolences. And the plot's central scam is so obvious that you watch it lumbering ahead from a mile away. The best that can be said is that Wild Oats recalls the much funnier Dirty Rotten Scoundrels of 1988 (featuring Michael Caine and Steve Martin), with an aging widow thrown in.

Sadly, although Lange is a gifted dramatic performer, comedy looks like an ill-fitting outfit -- you can see the effort squeezing into it requires. Even in Tootsie she played the straight man to Dustin Hoffman. This is not the case for MacLaine, who remains a shrewd and canny performer, tossing off line readings no one else would think to utter. When it comes to comedy, whatever "it" is, she's still got it. Note that the action stops repeatedly for lengthy blackouts, seemingly where television commercials are meant to play.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the ways older people are treated in life and in movies like Wild Oats. Does it seem that people talk down to Eva just because she lost her husband and has wrinkles? Do you think people who believe they're trying to be helpful sometimes are actually being insensitive?

  • Can you think of other movies that depict new love between seniors? How are love and sex between older people typically depicted in the media? What kind of depiction do you think is honest?

  • Who is the movie's intended audience? How can you tell?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love to laugh

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