There is a world in which a movie starring William Shatner, Jean Smart, Christopher Lloyd, and Esai Morales is a work of comedic genius. That world actually could hypothetically be our world. A new movie out this week that features all of those actors, however, is not that film. Directed by Giorgio Serafini and written by Kurt Brungardt and Christopher Momenee, “Senior Moment” is more the start of an idea (and a cast) in search of a movie than anything else.
Essentially what we are treated to is the story of a former Air Force pilot and NASA test pilot, Victor Martin (Shatner), who has been single his whole life. His one true love is his classic 1955 Porsche Speedster. His secondary love is hitting on younger women. Somewhere after that are store bought, mass produced, pastries; his BFF, Sal (Lloyd); and telling racist/sexist jokes (the words “oh lighten up” may never be said in the film, but there isn’t a world in which this character hasn’t said them).
Victor is a stereotype. He is an old man out of touch with the modern world. He doesn’t know about Uber. He doesn’t know about organic wine. He hates the idea of being old. He hates the idea of having his keys taken away because he’s a menace behind the wheel. We are to know him and to accept him and to love him – he’s just like your racist/sexist grandpa.
In two straight paragraphs I have commented on the terrible attitude towards others which Victor exhibits, and I’ve done so despite it not being a big part of his character. After all, we don’t see him tell very many such jokes and Victor doesn’t mean that joke he tells about the Latino guy (Pablo, played by Carlos Miranda). Plus, the Latino guy is apparently okay with it. By the end of the movie, the two men are friends (Victor has Latino friends, he can tell that joke!).
None of that makes telling the joke okay.
In a nutshell though, this is “Senior Moment.” It’s got a sort of all too easy, “it’s funny because he’s old and harmless,” thing it’s trying to pass off. This man has a relationship with a police officer (Melissa Greenspan) who has pulled him over for speeding repeatedly. He apparently never gets tickets from her (and loves to watch her walk away from his car). The fact that Victor nearly kills a bunch of folks when he loses control of his car is touched on, and Smart’s Caroline Summers really cares about it, but it’s not something with which Victor actually wrestles. He’s more interested in stalking Caroline when he thinks that she’s seeing someone else (Morales’ Diego Lozana). I know what you’re thinking – it’s okay, it’s funny because he’s old and harmless (except when he almost killed people while driving).
Victor is only redeemed in the movie through his burgeoning love for Caroline. She is the one who will set him on the right path. She is the one who will teach him to eat healthy (like homemade strudel instead of his prepackaged pastries, and organic wine instead of whatever else he has been drinking). She is the one for whom he will give up his car. She is the one for whom…. you get the idea.
There is no work in this for Victor. There is no crucible. There is just a lazy river he floats along towards love. Sure, he may got jostled as he travels down his path, but outside of some minor splashing he’s got it easy – fall in love, become a good person. And even here, even with the falling in love, he’s got help. Caroline in part falls for this man in part because he has Sal fix her cuckoo clock (despite her having requested that they not do so) and there’s a superstition in her family about her not falling in love until the cuckoo strikes. Like everything else in the movie, it isn’t really explored with any depth. Not only that, but there’s no work that goes with the story either. Sal just has to sit there, take it apart and put it back together so that it works. Easy peasy. Why no one thought to do it decades ago is a complete mystery. Certainly, Caroline’s daughter, Sonia (Maya Stojan), seems intelligent enough to have considered taking the clock to a jeweler, but such an event seems to not have occurred.
If you’re looking for a car metaphor for the movie (because Victor loves cars), it’s that it just coasts along until it comes to a stop. Well, either that or it just sits in cruise control the whole time, free and easy on a straightaway. Heck, there’s no reason I can’t use two different car metaphors for “Senior Moment,” even if they clash, the movie is full of clashing ideas that are never worked out, just tarmacked over. Save your time, this is not the “Star Trek III” reunion you’re looking for (and Lloyd is in a way better movie also coming out this week).
photo credit: Screen Media