young @ heart

When I first saw the trailer for Young @ Heart, it elicited a chuckle. Come on. It's old people singing punk songs. That's funny.

I wasn't sure I really wanted to see it, though; would it really stay funny for two hours? Besides, isn't it kind of disrespectful to laugh at old people?

Holy cheeses, was I wrong. Young @ Heart doesn't mock its subjects; it celebrates them.


Granted, it's a bit jarring to watch a 92-year-old British lady singing a Clash song... until you meet her. Said 92-year-old, Eileen Hall, is hilarious, sharp, and a bit of a raucous flirt. Actually, all the folks in the Young @ Heart chorus (average age: 80) are pretty cool people. They joke around, they drink, they (at least in one case) hook up with each other... they're like us.

Imagine that. Old people are just people. That was really the light-bulb moment for me. Of course it shouldn't be so surprising. But the unfortunate fact is that in our society, old people (like people who are disabled or overweight) tend to be invisible. We so easily forget that they were once young, vital, and considered rebels by older generations.

While I was watching this, I kept thinking of my grandma. Now, let me make one thing perfectly clear: Grandma is not old. If you ask her, she'll tell you she's 43. (When we wonder how that can be, since Dad is 52, she snaps, "That's his problem.") Grandma is also disabled. As a young (and gorgeous) eighteen-year-old, she contracted polio. She recovered, but without the use of her left leg. Since that time, she's re-learned to walk (with the use of a brace), she drives, she's thoroughly involved in her community, and is quite honestly more independent than many other *ahem* 43-year-olds.

Now... I know all that about Grandma. But there is still the occasional person who, seeing her in a wheelchair at the store, will speak to Grandma's companion instead of addressing her directly. To many people, because of her age and her disability, my Grandma is invisible.

I wonder how many times I've treated someone like that, just because I don't know them.

Anyway... the movie. It's brilliant. It's beautiful. It reduced me to a sobbing puddle of goo at least three times.

But more importantly, it made me think about the way the world is, and why. I think that should be the ultimate goal of every movie. Young @ Heart, at least, succeeded spectacularly.
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5 Response to "young @ heart"

  1. Jess says:
    May 22, 2008 at 2:33 PM

    I'm so excited someone saw this (and I got to read about it). I've seen previews and wasn't quite sure. You're totally right about the invisibility thing - I love finding out things about my friends parents or grandparents because they've just never bothered to ask. I can't wait to see the movie.

  2. WaywardJam says:
    May 23, 2008 at 2:56 PM

    This was such a great movie. My current top film of the year.

  3. Linda says:
    May 23, 2008 at 5:58 PM

    I saw this film AND the group perform, 2 days after I put my 81 year old mother in the hospital for a heart problem and a bum hip (she's out now, and doing quite well). Talk about poignant. When you go to an event like this, sitting next to 3 octogenarians, whose daughter had sent them tickets to the event from San Diego (total strangers), you feel quite honored! This film was an experience for me. For the record, they sang at least 15 songs (I was having trouble keeping track between standing ovations) and the Q&A was as entertaining as the film and performance. This film is a true gift!

  4. Daniel G. says:
    May 25, 2008 at 3:47 PM

    I can't believe you only cried three times! Glad you saw it before it was gone, even though it could (should) make an appearance during awards season at the end of the year.

  5. Nayana Anthony says:
    May 27, 2008 at 10:34 AM

    Daniel... It better!

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