I'll See You in My Dreams full movie review - "I'll See You in My Dreams" is a pleasant, but lackluster look at aging.
Older, or "mature" Americans are one of the most under-served demographics in terms of films meant to appeal to them. Americans over 50 make up nearly 1/3 of the U.S. population.
Yet, it's clear to even the most casual observer that the number of movies featuring mature themes is well under 1/3 of the movies that appear in theaters. Still, many of Hollywood's most popular actors, including Johnny Depp, Denzel Washington, Brad Pitt, Meryl Streep, Adam Baldwin and Liam Neeson, are over 50. All this makes it an unusual sight (and for those over 50, a welcome sight) when a movie with specific appeal to the AARP crowd shows up at the local multiplex. Sure, more mature Americans enjoy a variety of movies, just like all other moviegoers, but like moviegoers in all demographics, they also want to see movies to which they can relate on a very personal level. They want to be able to go to a theater and, at least some of the time, see movies that "get" them, that understand who they are, what their lives are like and what they care about. Unfortunately, quality films that fit that definition are few and far between.
In the past decade, some of the better movies featuring more mature actors in the main roles and/or dealing with themes of particular interest to those over 50 include (in chronological order): "The Bucket List", "Letters to Juliet", "Enough Said", "Last Vegas", "Nebraska", "Philomena" and "Grudge Match", plus the "Expendables", "RED" and "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" films. There are some excellent movies on that list, but there really weren't many more like them produced in recent years. Then there's "I'll See You in My Dreams" (PG-13, 1:32). So, how does that last one stack up to the others I just named? Blythe Danner (Gwyneth Paltrow's mother, who has an impressive body of work of her own, including the "Meet the Parents" films and numerous TV appearances) stars as Carol Peterson, a widow who lives alone in her comfortable Los Angeles-area house with her dog. Carol seems happy enough. She has peace and quiet, she controls her own schedule and she has friends. She makes frequent trips to a nearby retirement home to play cards with the free-spirited Sally (Rhea Perlman), the nosy Rona (Mary Kay Place) and the usually very proper Georgina (June Squibb). Carol also sometimes plays golf with Sally, and Rona occasionally stops by the house.
Still, it feels like there's something missing in Carol's life and we see in her eyes and her actions that she's starting to realize it too. Carol strikes up a conversation with Lloyd (Martin Starr), the much-younger pool maintenance man and they become friends. Then she meets Bill (Sam Elliott). He's handsome, charming, self-assured and about her age. After running into Carol a couple times around town, he takes her to lunch. Soon they're going out on his boat and even Carol has to admit that she really likes him. Meanwhile, Carol's daughter, Katherine (Malin Åkerman), is flying in for a visit. It's obvious that Carol and Katherine love each other, but it seems that they don't have a lot of contact and their relationship feels just a little strained. Through all these interactions, Carol seems to be gradually coming out of her shell and living her life again. Her friends and her daughter do what they can to keep Carol moving in that direction, in spite of some setbacks.
And? that's about all there is to tell about "I'll See You in My Dreams" (while avoiding spoilers). This is a small and relatively short movie without much of a plot. It's a pleasant enough diversion and it has a few funny moments and a few touching moments, but it doesn't seem to have very much to say. We gain a greater understanding of what it's like to be getting older and living in a house by yourself, but the movie's messages are almost too subtle to be detected, and even the story's dramatic moments are too muted. The same can be said of a couple of the actors, but not the leads. Danner is a wonderful actress and Elliott oozes his trademark charisma. It's great to see them both back on the big screen. Perlman, Place and Squibb all have personality to spare, but can only do so much with this lackluster script. Ironically, it's Starr and Ackerman, the youngest members of the main cast, who lack the energy to make their characters compelling. Even the film's title doesn't say much. It only relates to the plot in a rather inconsequential way. I'm afraid I can't recommend this movie and it's a shame. Mature Americans who go to the theater hoping to see movies made with them in mind deserve better. "C"