On Golden Pond Reviews
(Full review TBD)
First, let's talk about what is done well - Henry Fonda's great performance as a senior citizen. We get all the humor we can get about an old man through Fonda's performance - he doesn't sound like himself at all, he'll make harsh jokes every now and then based on sexuality or race, he's extremely forgetful. But most of all, from a few key scenes we can clearly see that Thayer is afraid of death hitting him soon, even though this contradicts what he says throughout the movie. It is nearly heartbreaking (but also pretty cheesy) when his daughter confronts him towards the conclusion of the film about never acting as a true friend to her like he has been acting around Billy, who is Chelsea's soon-to-be stepson. It is a great moment to analyze whether their relationship has failed in the past based on gender or simply because Fonda's character was not a good father to Chelsea.
Sadly, Fonda's performance along with that climactic moment about repairing his relationship with Chelsea are the only things of merit/interest for this film in my eyes. The main story is about Chelsea and her new fiance Bill leaving Bill's son, Billy, with Chelsea's parents while they take a trip. What a weird decision to leave a thirteen year old kid alone with two elderly citizens whom he just met and is not even related to. Best parenting ever. While it is a delight to see Billy become friends with Norman, their "journey" is not that exciting at all except for when Norman and Billy become stranded on a rock in the middle of the pond after an accident.
To put it simply, with actors of this particular caliber, their final movie could have been a lot stronger, but instead they starred in a decent melodrama at the end of their careers, not quite reaching the greatness of movies we come to expect from Henry Fonda and Katharine Hepburn.