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Young@Heart (2007)

tomatometer

88

Average Rating: 7.6/10
Reviews Counted: 100
Fresh: 88 | Rotten: 12

Full of endearing characters, this doc about a choir of "seniors behaving badly" is uplifting and delightful.

86

Average Rating: 7.4/10
Critic Reviews: 29
Fresh: 25 | Rotten: 4

Full of endearing characters, this doc about a choir of "seniors behaving badly" is uplifting and delightful.

audience

91

liked it
Average Rating: 4.2/5
User Ratings: 5,283

My Rating

Movie Info

The Young@Heart Chorus is a vocal group from Northampton, MA, who have earned an international reputation for their unique interpretations of songs by Sonic Youth, the Ramones, and the Clash. However, this isn't a teenage garage band attacking the classic punk rock songbook -- the Young@Heart Chorus is comprised of 22 senior citizens whose average age is 80, and under director Bob Cilman they've gained a degree of fame for their enthusiastic a cappella renditions of well-known rock & roll tunes.

Sep 16, 2008

$3.8M

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All Critics (101) | Top Critics (29) | Fresh (88) | Rotten (12) | DVD (1)

Sure, these 'zesty', 'lively' old folks are enjoying themselves. The question is why on earth we should be expected to watch.

October 17, 2008 Full Review Source: Time Out | Comments (2)
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A more genuinely sweet and uplifting documentary I have not seen in quite a while.

May 26, 2008 Full Review Source: Film.com
Film.com
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Young@Heart is nothing less than an ode to joy.

May 9, 2008 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

An undeniably sweet mix of disarming honesty, inspired gumption and brutal reality, Young@Heart somehow manages to avoid the maudlin while enhancing the obvious with its portrait of a chorus of senior citizens who sing contemporary rock songs.

April 25, 2008 Full Review Source: Detroit News
Detroit News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

What makes Young@Heart such an ingratiating experience goes far deeper than the novelty of seeing old people singing hard rock tunes.

April 25, 2008 Full Review Source: Miami Herald
Miami Herald
Top Critic IconTop Critic

In many ways, this serious side of Young@Heart is what ultimately makes the film memorable.

April 25, 2008 Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Ya gotta love these guys! How could you NOT love these guys?

July 13, 2012 Full Review Source: Cinemania

This film shows the triumph of the human spirit and the strength of will.

January 13, 2009 Full Review Source: 7M Pictures
7M Pictures

Despite the director's smarmy narration and interviews, the bemused equanimity of these folks who've seen it all could inspire each of us to what "we can can" do as we age.

December 7, 2008 Full Review Source: Film-Forward.com
Film-Forward.com

If it...verges on being just slightly patronising at times, that's a quarrel with the filmmakers, not its participants.

October 24, 2008 Full Review Source: Sydney Morning Herald
Sydney Morning Herald

It's a pity that director Stephen Walker, who also narrates, imposes so much of himself on the material, asking at times the most insensitive questions.

October 17, 2008 Full Review Source: The Australian
The Australian

Develops into a poignant reflection on community, mortality and how we all need to stop and smell the roses. Recommended.

October 17, 2008 Full Review Source: MovieTime, ABC Radio National
MovieTime, ABC Radio National

Funny, touching and life-affirming.

October 17, 2008 Full Review Source: FILMINK (Australia)
FILMINK (Australia)

As an interviewer Walker is habitually condescending and sometimes downright inane...

October 17, 2008 Full Review Source: The Age (Australia)
The Age (Australia)

The wonderful members of the choir, truly young at heart, overcome the occasional clumsiness of the filmmaker and you come away from this film feeling genuinely uplifted.

October 17, 2008 Full Review Source: At the Movies (Australia)
At the Movies (Australia)

The devil may have all the best tunes, but it's the elderly who nail them. Charming, heartwarming and totally kick-ass, you'll never look at your grandparents in the same way.

October 17, 2008 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Moments of high comedy and deep tragedy make this more than the average rehearsal and concert film.

October 17, 2008 Full Review Source: Film4
Film4

That might be because the film has already been shown on the BBC - a fact that, along with the unprepossessing production values, rather begs the question of why bother with a cinematic release at all?

October 17, 2008 Full Review Source: Times [UK]
Times [UK]

A lovely little film.

October 17, 2008 Full Review Source: Guardian
Guardian

Judicious trimming would have improved the movie, but Johnny Cash-voiced Fred Knittle's opening night rendition of Coldplay's "Fix You", dedicated to the recently departed members, is guaranteed to leave not a dry eye in the house.

October 17, 2008 Full Review Source: Sky Movies
Sky Movies

If this film were any more heartwarming, your chest would melt.

October 17, 2008 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

A worse film might be dismissed as sobsploitation. But Stephen Walker's documentary - a labour of love inspired by Walker's first sight of the group in a London West End show - touches the mind as well as the heart.

October 17, 2008 Full Review Source: Financial Times
Financial Times

They more than justify a film which, despite its faults, makes the winter of life less terrifying than it's made out to be.

October 17, 2008 Full Review Source: This is London
This is London

Heartwarming and heartbreaking in equal measure, Young At Heart is a good antidote for cynicism.

October 9, 2008 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

It will make you feel wonderful, and if you're like me, whose emotional barometer responds in the positive with tears, take plenty of tissues.

October 9, 2008 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

Audience Reviews for Young@Heart

A touching documentary about the unlikeliest of American institutions, a chorus group from New England made up of seniors that performs an annual show, sometimes in Europe, despite the fact that many members are knocking at death's door. What's more, the film is punctuated by a few "music video" interludes that showcase some telling tracks, particularly "I Wanna Be Sedated" by the Ramones, David Bowie's "Golden Years" and disco classic "Stayin' Alive". It won't take long to warm up to this film as you watch it, and it's impossible to avoid being moved. "I'm just tired and bored with myself," (a line from Bruce Springsteen's "Dancin' in the Dark") sure sounds different coming from a group of 80-year-olds performing at a prison... and making the inmates cry! Young of Heart wedges a beautiful slice of.life between plenty of entertaining songs, and it makes for a film that's not to be missed.
January 26, 2011
danperry17

Super Reviewer

You're Never Too Old To Rock.
December 19, 2009
ScoopOnline
Wahida K

Super Reviewer

Documentary about a choir group from Northampton, Massachusetts, average age 80, that sing rock & roll tunes. Overly precious, even condescending, narration, mars the film. At times, feels a little like one of those "old people are cute" segments that often end nighttime newscasts. However it's hard not to like this film, these people are wonderful and their heart shines through.
January 17, 2009
hobster1

Super Reviewer

[COLOR=DarkRed][FONT=Arial]Old people and rock and roll seem like contradictory terms. It's easier to imagine a 70-something grandma listening to the soothing tunes of Lawrence Welk or the Andrews Sisters than the likes of Sonic Youth and The Clash. Young @ Heart is a documentary that follows a unique chorus made completely of senior citizens (the youngest member is 72) who travel the country singing contemporary rock songs. Now, bear witness to great-grandmothers rocking at a reasonable hour and partying on days where they take their meds.

Once old people reach a certain aged age they fall into the same category as children, and by that I mean you can position them to do anything out of the ordinary and it suddenly becomes adorable. Seeing a baby wear a top hat? Cute. Seeing an old person dance to a modern rock song? Cute. I don't make the rules, folks, but the end of life and the beginning of life have much in common, which includes the universal appeal of young and old doing things unlikely for their age. So, yes, Young @ Heart has a steady supply of adorable moments, especially as you watch how joyous many of the members are when they practice. Many members of the chorus have severe medical ailments and profess that participating and singing has medicinal benefits. They feel young and energized, and sometimes the members will defy doctor's orders to attend. It is clear how much singing can mean to these people, and watching them come alive is undeniably heartwarming, but it's downright moving when the Young at Heart chorus branch out. They perform at a prison and literally bring incarcerated prisoners to tears. I'll admit that I was fighting back tears myself during the stirring performance of Coldplay's "Fix You," which is given a somewhat profound new meaning. The lyrics, "Lights will guide you home," and "When you lose someone you can't replace," are given more relevance when sung by octogenarians who have all experienced recent loss amongst their ranks.

With such a naturally intriguing premise, it's a shame then that director Stephen Walker doesn't do more with the material. In many ways, Young @ Heart is a rather ordinary documentary that forgoes several opportunities to dig deeper. The interviews are rather basic and rarely penetrating, and the narrative structure of practicing for the big show means that the concluding fifteen minutes will be locked into being the performance. Walker narrates the movie and often inserts himself into the film because it seems like he wants to be part of the fun. Documentaries can succeed from objective and subjective point of views, but I get frustrated when people like Walker don't want to merely tell the story but piggyback so they are part of the story. It smacks me of narcissism.

I think there was a stronger dramatic dynamic with Young @ Heart than what Walker captures, and I think he misses this because he had lowered ambitions for the film simply to document the seven-week period of practice. Every now and then you'll discover a moment that points to what Young @ Heart had the potential to become, but Walker's intention is more along the lines at gushing at what geezers can do. I get that Walker feels affection for his subjects but couldn't he have gone further than the old-people-sing-young-people-songs gimmick? Some times the film feels like it has as much depth as a prototypical behind-the-scenes featurette on a DVD.

Walker evenly divides the film between performances and interviews and he also doesn't overdose on the pathos even after deaths hit the Young at Heart clan. The movie has several music videos where the old folks sing to songs like "Golden Years," "I Wanna Be Sedated," and "Stayin' Alive." As you can see, each song is given something of a twist. However, the music videos come across as cheesy and unnecessary since seeing the performers live would be more interesting and real. Including several music videos, of songs that we never see the chorus practice no less, seems like wasted time that could have been spent getting to know our cast of characters better. I'd rather better know them as people than laugh and giggle at them performing The Bee Gees at a bowling alley.

There are some chorus members that separate from the pack like 92-year-old Eileen Hall who used to be a burlesque dancer many moons ago. She's the oldest in the film and yet in many ways has the most indomitable spirit, frequently cracking jokes and making suggestive statements that Walker deems to be "flirting." Fred Knittle is a man who was told he'd have two years to live after suffering his latest heart attack. By the time he rejoins the chorus he's at two years and four months and running. He ably steps into the solo spot to sing "Fix You" after the original singer passes away. The moment is so pure and emotional that it reminds you about the power of music in a non-saccharine way. One of the more interesting figures in the film is Bob Cilman, the music director of the Young at Heart chorus. Here is a man in his 50s teaching contemporary rock songs to the elderly, and yet the film never explores this man and his infinite patience. What are his reasons for doing the Young at Heart chorus? What does he think about his own life's purpose? The movie would have strongly benefited by spending more time exploring the life of this man and his unique mission. I want to know what makes him tick.

My faults with the film do not fall upon the subjects. This batch of senior citizen rockers is a delightful group and watching them perform can be entertaining and occasionally inspiring. However, I cannot fully recommend it because its scope and interests are far too narrow given the subject matter. Director Walker would rather treat his senior subjects like they were posing for a calendar in adorable poses, and I'm glad he has such warm affection for these lively octogenarians. But his affection clouds his filmmaking judgment and Walker ignores plenty of palpable drama. The concluding concert will certainly produce smiles and some toe tapping, but this drama could have been so much more. I can honestly say that, beyond the communal experience, there is no reason to catch this movie in a theater. It will play the same on your TV screen. If only Walker had listened a little harder to his older subjects then maybe he would have realized that true wisdom does not come merely from a cute gimmick.

Nate's Grade: C+[/FONT][/COLOR]
November 21, 2008
boxman
Nate Zoebl

Super Reviewer

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