Old Parent Guide
Truly terrible screenwriting undercuts an interesting premise to produce an almost unwatchable film.
Parent Movie Review
Guy (Gael Garcia Bernal) and Prisca (Viky Krieps) have hit a very, very rough patch in their marriage, and divorce seems imminent. But the two are determined to give their children one last family vacation, and so they bring six-year-old Trent (Nolan River, later Luca Faustino Rodriguez, Alex Wolff, and Emun Elliot) and eleven-year-old Maddox (Alexa Swinton, later Thomasin McKenzie and Embeth Davidtz) to a beautiful tropical resort. Once there, the manager (Gustaf Hammarsten) offers to show them a secret private beach, just off of the resort. Eager to make some memories, the family readily agrees - but once they’re on the beach, they find that leaving is a far more difficult proposition. Worse, they seem to be ageing in a matter of hours…
There’s only one thing you need to know about this movie, and that is the director: M. Night Shyamalan. If film critics went in for sworn nemeses, he would be mine. I cannot stand his smug, style-over-substance, incoherent movies. I’m not saying he’s never made a good movie –I like The Sixth Sense as much as the next guy, even if it’s a little goofy. But his output since then has been routinely terrible and Old doesn’t break his streak.
True to the title, I felt that I aged a considerable amount over the runtime of this cinematic misadventure. Beyond ageing, I think I went through most of the stages of grief. I skipped shock and went straight through pain and anger within the first 15 minutes. By then, I was into bargaining: I think I offered my soul if the credits would roll within the next ten minutes. I never quite made it to acceptance, but the movie certainly dragged on long enough for me to cycle through the first few stages approximately a dozen times.
The reason for all this angst lies in the deeply, deeply terrible screenwriting. Characters do not so much converse as they simply exposit loudly at one another. I would say there are plot holes which could shame the Marianas Trench, but to be certain I would have to pay much more attention to the film than the human brain can tolerate. What’s worse is that the basic premise is fairly interesting, and in better hands, might have made a compelling film. Instead, this production takes your brain on a two-hour death march into inanity.
Apart from the fact that the human characters are all full-time residents of the uncanny valley based on their dialogue alone, there’s some content here that parents are not going to be wild about. There are a few incidents of violence and one scene involving surgery on the beach – inadvisable, at best. My personal low is the scene involving two individuals, who a mere three hours ago were six-year-olds and are now becoming parents No, you don’t see them doing the deed. Yes, it’s still horrifying. Especially when you consider that, mentally, they’re still essentially six. The icky factor is simply impossible to overcome. Having now finished this review, I plan to never think about this film again and hope the childbirth scene will be wiped from my memory. If my suffering has taught you nothing else, please avoid seeing this. Your brain will thank me.Directed by M. Night Shyamalan. Starring Gael Garcia Bernal, Vicky Krieps, and Rufus Sewell. Running time: 108 minutes. Theatrical release July 23, 2021. Updated October 2, 2021
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Rating & Content Info
Why is Old rated PG-13? Old is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for strong violence, disturbing images, suggestive content, partial nudity and brief strong language.
Violence: A woman has a seizure. Several dead bodies are seen. Several people are attacked with a knife, in two cases fatally. An individual has a tumor surgically removed with a pocketknife. A dead infant is seen. One character is killed after falling off a cliff. Another is shown with many broken limbs.
Sexual Content: There is some female nudity in a skinny-dipping scene, and once later in the film. Two six-year-olds in adult bodies are implied to have had sex with a resulting pregnancy.
Profanity: There is one use of a sexual expletive, and several uses of mild profanities and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adult characters are briefly shown drinking what is implied to be alcohol.
Page last updated October 2, 2021
Old Parents' Guide
How does ageing effect our relationships? Is it possible to truly remember what it was like to be younger? What advantages and disadvantages does age have?