There has been some speculation online recently about what constitutes a “major motion picture” worthy of industry-award recognition. Targets usually pointed out include a number of made-for-online movies and miniseries that proponents say hit the mark of artistry and professionalism far more accurately than most cineplex fare.
After seeing “Just Getting Started” you may wonder if that’s true.
Written and directed by Ron Shelton (”Tin Cup,” “Bull Durham” and “Hollywood Homicide”), this movie seems built upon the idea that his penchant for stories about aging professionals showing young whipper-snappers a thing or two will strike gold once again. And, on paper, it may have looked like a winner. Instead, the plot seems yanked from an old Bob Hope-Bing Crosby dustbin as it follows the creaky antics of two lotharios chasing the affections of a new woman in their midst.
The movie centers on the sparky head of a luxury resort for swinging seniors in Palm Springs (but really New Mexico). Duke Diver (Morgan Freeman) is the center of attention at all the resort’s parties, social functions, card games and rounds of golf. But, his background is a little murky. That apparently means nothing to the staff and certainly the women he constantly chases: Jane, Margarite and Lily (Glenne Headly, Sheryl Lee Ralph and Elizabeth Ashley). Of course, he’s egged on by his buddies played by Joe Pantoliano, George Wallace and Graham Beckel who have no function at all in this movie except to serve as Duke’s cheerleading squad.
Into this mix rolls a Western-hero type in boots and a cowboy hat named Leo (Tommy Lee Jones). Leo immediately charms his way into the resort’s social circles and is certainly noticed by the single women. Of course, he is also immediately seen as a threat to Duke’s leering status quo, and soon a rivalry develops for the position of top dog.
There’s also another person who lands in their midst who may switch things up even more seriously for Duke. She is a woman named Suzie (Rene Russo), who just so happens to be a hired gun for the corporation that owns the resort. It seems the corporation has gotten wind of certain financial improprieties and has sent Suzie to clear things up and maybe even fire Duke.
Now, Duke can hardly benefit from any kind of publicity, especially negative, because he has something to hide.
That “something” is part of a subplot involving the wife of a mob boss who has ordered a hit man to kill Duke after seeing a video snippet promoting the resort.
Oh, and watch for a brief cameo by singer Johnny Mathis, age 82.
Classified as a comedy, one would be hard-pressed or severely medicated to find any real laughs in this movie. The jokes are stale, horribly sexist in some places, and actually make one yearn for the days when Hope and Crosby used skillful timing and flair to deliver one-line zingers. Here, you can’t help but feel a little embarrassed for the aging cast, especially Glenne Headly, who made this her last appearance before her death last June.
See it if you must, but know there are a whole lot of other movies these actors have appeared in that are way better than this.
“Just Getting Started” is rated PG-13 for language, suggestive material and brief violence.
It is screening daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4145 or visit storyteller7.com.
Also showing in Taos
The following was edited from promotional materials.
MPAA rating: Not rated
Movies at the TCA
Drawing from over 100 hours of never-before-seen footage that has been tucked away in the National Geographic archives for over 50 years, award-winning director Brett Morgen tells the story of “Jane,” a woman whose chimpanzee research challenged the male-dominated scientific consensus of her time and revolutionized our understanding of the natural world.
Set to a rich orchestral score from legendary composer Philip Glass, the film offers an unprecedented, intimate portrait of Jane Goodall – a trailblazer who defied the odds to become one of the world’s most admired conservationists.
Formerly Baroness Jane van Lawick-Goodall, Jane Goodall is a British primatologist, ethologist, anthropologist and United Nations Messenger of Peace. Considered to be the world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees, Goodall is best known for her 55-year-plus study of social and family interactions of wild chimpanzees since she first went to Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania, in 1960.
Although widely lauded for her research, Goodall has also been criticized for her methodology. She addressed these concerns in 1993, stating, “When, in the early 1960s, I brazenly used such words as ‘childhood,’ ‘adolescence,’ ‘motivation,’ ‘excitement,’ and ‘mood,’ I was much criticized. Even worse was my crime of suggesting that chimpanzees had ‘personalities.’ I was ascribing human characteristics to nonhuman animals and was thus guilty of that worst of ethological sins – anthropomorphism.”
This film will be screened at 2 p.m. Sunday (Dec. 17), and at 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday (Dec. 18-20).
Movies at the TCA film series, Taos Community Auditorium, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. For tickets and additional information, call the Taos Center for the Arts at (575) 758-2052 or visit tcataos.org.