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On Golden Pond (1981)

tomatometer

71

Average Rating: 6.2/10
Critic Reviews: 7
Fresh: 5 | Rotten: 2

No consensus yet.

audience

87

liked it
Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 20,126

My Rating

Movie Info

There's little that happens in On Golden Pond that isn't thoroughly predictable from the start, but the film is blessed with so much star power, charm and honest sentiment that everyone in the audience is willing to ignore the cliches and go the distance. In his last film, Henry Fonda plays Norman Thayer, a cranky 80-year-old retired professor, making his annual pilgrimage with his wife Katharine Hepburn (in her only teaming with Henry Fonda) to their New England summer cottage. Their solitude

PG,

Drama

Ernest Thompson

Mar 20, 2001

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment

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All Critics (24) | Top Critics (7) | Fresh (22) | Rotten (2) | DVD (7)

There is a natural rhythm to the film that makes its own quiet, life-affirming statement.

February 6, 2013 Full Review Source: Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

When it sometimes seems the whole society has spiritually decamped for Tinseltown, the movie offers the hope that people can come home again-at least for a visit.

June 7, 2011 Full Review Source: TIME Magazine
TIME Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Without question, these are major, meaty roles for Katharine Hepburn and Henry Fonda, and there could have been little doubt that the two would work superbly together.

February 4, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Two of Hollywood's best-loved veterans deserved a far better swan song than this sticky confection.

January 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out | Comment (1)
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Watching the movie, I felt I was witnessing something rare and valuable.

October 23, 2004 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

On Golden Pond is a mixed blessing, but it offers one performance of rare quality and three others that are very good. That's not half-bad.

August 30, 2004 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Valuable lessons in loving one's family members.

January 2, 2011 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

Fonda was 75 when this picture was made and must have known he didn't have much time. There could have been no finer final curtain for him than this.

February 4, 2008 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

This family melodrama about aging, mortality, and reconciliation is more significant as a social than artistic event: It's the only teaming of Henry Fonda (who won an Oscar) with daughter Jane (who produced it for him) and also with screen icon Hepburn.

June 11, 2007 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com
EmanuelLevy.Com

Wonderful to get one last sweet visit with Mr. Fonda and Ms. Hepburn.

April 3, 2005
eFilmCritic.com

Stellar cast in left field family values classic.

December 28, 2004
Kansas City Kansan

On Golden Pond is a thematically rich drama exploring marriage, aging, family conflict, death and dying.

January 31, 2004 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
Spirituality and Practice

A manipulative, Oscar-ready mainstream drama. But surprisingly, it's not a bad movie.

October 23, 2003 Full Review Source: Filmcritic.com
Filmcritic.com

Classic drama. Moving exploration of old age.

July 14, 2003
About.com

Henry Fonda and Katharine Hepburn both shine in an impressively executed Hollywood drama.

May 24, 2003 Full Review Source: Film4
Film4

Audience Reviews for On Golden Pond

An aging couple cares for their estranged daughter's stepson.
This is probably the nicest, sweetest, most wholesome film about death ever. The primary conflict, Norman's fear of death and his unfinished business, is treated with such a light-heartedness that the film takes on a dreamy pastoral quality. By itself, the film could be charming, able to deliver insight about going into the night with a smirk rather than a frown, but the film's conflict is complicated with the entrance of Norman's daughter. I understand that the conflict between Henry and Jane Fonda informs the film's contemporary interpretation, but as it plays today, there needs to be more setup than Chelsea's weeping into her mother's arms about Norman's placidity.
The film's highlights are the performances. Even Jane Fonda is exceptional, and Katharine Hepburn plays the ideal, strong-willed grandmother, a woman all of us should want guiding our lives. Henry Fonda's Oscar win was deserved.
Overall, it's hard to imagine so many ducks and landscape shots in a film about the inevitability of death, but at times, not often, On Golden Pond pulls it off.
October 8, 2013
hunterjt13
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

On Golden Pond may have a very straight forward story about a couple growing old together as they now live on "Golden Pond", a quite little place on the water where family and friends come to visit. As their daughter brings her new fiance to visit, they are blessed with a 13 year old grandson, who is a stubborn little kid at first sight, but as charming as anyone could possibly be on the inside. The performances are significantly brilliant and the actions of each character will have you in a universe of mixed emotions. For Norman Thayer, his life is not too far from finished and he will do anything with his arrogant comedic-like attitude to relive his childhood by becoming best friends with his grandson. This truly is a basic story, but the writing, the acting, the events, and the outcome is so touching and moving that I can call it a masterpiece. This is surely "cinema" in all it's glory.
August 29, 2011
KJ Proulx

Super Reviewer

With the subject matter circulating around death, failed relationships, and troubled families it would seem that this would be a shouting match waiting to happen. Instead the plot plays coy, reeling you in with the calm wooded surroundings and the fraility of Ethel and Norman in their ripe old age. The underscored drama is just fodder for what is to happen: a coming of age bonding that supplements from Tuesday with Morrie to wow the audience with the family friendly fair all grown up. A wonderful film if ever I saw one.
November 16, 2010
FrizzDrop

Super Reviewer

    1. Ethel Thayer: Listen to me, mister. You're my knight in shining armor. Don't you forget it. You're going to get back on that horse, and I'm going to be right behind you, holding on tight, and away we're gonna go, go, go!
    – Submitted by Dutch E (17 months ago)
    1. Ethel Thayer: Sometimes you have to look hard at a person, and realize he's doing the best he can.
    – Submitted by Mark H (2 years ago)
    1. Ethel Thayer: Come here, Norman. Hurry up. The loons! The loons! They're welcoming us back.
    – Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
    1. Ethel Thayer: Listen to me, mister. You're my knight in shining armor. Don't you forget it. You're going to get back on that horse, and I'm going to be right behind you, holding on tight, and away we're gonna go, go, go!
    – Submitted by Tyler C (3 years ago)
    1. Chelsea Thayer Wayne: Billy: I heard ya turned 80 today. Norman: That what ya heard? Billy: Man, that's....really old Norman: You should meet my father! Billy: Your father's still alive? Norman: No, but you should meet himk!
    – Submitted by Jim B (3 years ago)
View all quotes (5)

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