On Golden Pond - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

On Golden Pond Reviews

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July 13, 2017
The chemistry of this drama is casual entertainment of simplicity as veteran actors Henry Fonda and Katherine Hepburn very nicely performed in an aging, meaningful relationship. (B+)

(Full review TBD)
March 29, 2017
A trio of golden achievement in acting from Oscar-winning Henry Fonda, Katherine Hepburn and Jane Fonda radiates in this pleasantly balmy Hallmark-esque family drama that reflects upon aging, mortality and reconciliation.
December 16, 2016
I really enjoyed this movie. Loved both Katharine and Henry in the movie. LEGENDS.
August 18, 2016
Mark Rydell's ON GOLDEN POND is heartwarming vision of redemption before death.
August 13, 2016
There is only one way to describe "On Golden Pond"...when you watch it, you know you are seeing something rare, intimate, and valuable. It is the highest caliber of all cinema.
July 21, 2016
On Golden Pond is the story of an older couple who are summering in a cottage and dealing with the realities of old age and eventual death. Henry Fonda plays Norman, the gruff husband who seems to have a sour attitude about everything, and Katharine Hepburn plays his upbeat wife. Everything is disrupted when their daughter (played by Jane Fonda) shows up with her boyfriend and his son. I enjoyed the interaction between grumpy old Norman and the young boy. That progression from frustration to friendship was satisfying. The end of the film tried to accomplish the same thing between Norman and his daughter, but it was so rushed that I didn't buy it. This is a movie that doesn't have a lot of story to tell. It was more about relationships and how time can affect them. I liked the feel of the movie, it was warm and comforting. The bond between Hepburn and Fonda felt genuine, and I could see how these two people would fall in love and stay together for decades. There's really nothing wrong with On Golden Pond, it accomplishes what I think it set out to do reasonably well. It just wasn't trying to do anything all that special or significant. I'd watch it any time, because it seems like comfort viewing that will make you feel good, but I don't know how much I would recommend it to others.
May 31, 2016
A fitting final film for movie greats Henry Fonda and Katharine Hepburn, "On Golden Pond" is just lovely.
May 28, 2016
Charming and feel-good movie with Hollywood legends on the board.
April 11, 2016
On Golden Pond is typical and often goes into overly maudlin territory, but it is still surprisingly involving and quite charming with a great score, excellent scenery, a great sense of realism, some moving moments and strong performances from Henry Fonda and Katharine Hepburn.
½ March 1, 2016
While watching my favorite 1981 film you will discover something rare and precious as it explores the passion that arouses between the elderly couple Fonda and Hepburn, accompanied with a majestic score from Dave Grusin.
February 7, 2016
With impressive simplicity Mark Rydellīs On Golden Pond manages to stay true to life and delivers a touching - and surprisingly funny - familiar drama that wanders on themes like aging and family bonds with honesty and sensitivity while boasting tour de force performances from the legendary leads Katharine Hepburn and Henry Fonda.
November 5, 2015
Sometimes drifts into sentimentality which borders on the cheesy (this feeling is particularly heightened by the score) but is saved by two great performances from Henry Fonda and Katharine Hepburn with solid performances from the rest of the cast. Leaves you with a feeling of hope and a true joy to watch.
September 17, 2015
On Golden Pond could be watched just for the performances alone, but the movie itself is heartfelt and deals with many issues in a charming and realistic way. Just seeing Henry Fonda and daughter Jane on screen together is beautiful, especially since their real life relationship was similar to the father-daughter relationship their characters had. Not to mention, Katherine Hepburn. A wonderful film.
½ August 15, 2015
Seeing that this was one of the last films for both Henry Fonda and Katharine Hepburn, I was a little disappointed that this film marked the end of their acting careers. What is disappointing is not their ability in the film - they both won Oscars, rightfully so for Fonda, not so sure for Hepburn's fourth Oscar - but rather the fact that each of them had amazing movies such as 12 Angry Men for Fonda and The African Queen for Hepburn, yet they ended their careers on this simple and cheesy melodrama about aging.

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.
July 22, 2015
I liked that this movie chose unique material-aging, which is rare in Hollywood. The film also chose a rather cantankerous, odd main character. That being said I found the movie-despite great performances, rather boring and lacking some much needed excitement. Some day I should only hope to be so lucky to have a beautiful lake house like them- great cinematography. I also should hope to be kinda like hepburns character when I'm old,
July 10, 2015
Life marches on.

Norman and Ethel Thayer are an aging couple in their 80s that take summer vacations on the pond. She spends days cooking and reading and he spends days fishing and complaining. One day their daughter shows up with a new man and her teenage son. She asks the grandparents to watch their grandchild and a fantastic, magical summer unfolds.

"She said she's in love with her dentist."
"What does her boyfriend think of this?"

Mark Rydell, director of The Cowboys, The River, The Rose, For the Boys, The Fox, Even Money, and Harry and Walter go to New York, deliver On Golden Pond. The storyline for this picture is very well written and contains fun and entertaining characters. There are some great messages sprinkled throughout the film and the performances by Henry Fonda and Katherine Hepburn were awesome.

"One of the lesbians expired."

I came across this on Netflix while looking up Henry Fonda pictures and had to add it to my queue. I finally got around to seeing this and I love it. This is a very entertaining picture that reminds me so much of my life in Maine.

"Don't be such an old poop."

Grade: A
½ December 23, 2014
I saw this movie as a kid and obviously didn't appreciate it at the time. However with great movies you remember parts about it that stick with you. The relationship between Fondas character and the young boy were memorable. So much star power in this movie it's just ridiculous. Predictable of course, but with the Performances is doesn't matter at all..
September 22, 2014
I doubt why couldn't it win those technical awards in Oscar. The scenery is marvellous. But Henry Fonda's performance is superb also. He tells you what people need most in their old age. His relationship with Billy is interesting and sentimental. Katharine Hepburn's performance is slightly less powerful than Fonda to me, but she still portrays an adorable decent old lady vividly. The ending is heartwarming to watch.
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
August 31, 2014
I'm so tempted to make a reference to The Band's "Up On Cripple Creek", but that song is way too fun for a film this slow-I mean, sad. This film is reasonably entertaining, I guess, but it's more family dysfunction, and features Henry Fonda about a year away from dying, and that is some sad stuff, and premium Oscar bait, at least in the early '80s, when family dysfunction dramas were still being popular after "Kramer vs. Kramer". First, it's "Ordinary People", and now we have "Old People", with Jane Fonda being pretty decidedly an exception. Man, she was nearing her mid-40s in this film, and she was still hot, as well she should be if she was going to fulfill certain daddy issues that this film kind of helped her resolve. I guess annoying liberal democrats have to stick together, even if they are part of the family unit that they are trying to destroy, or at least deconstruct. Before this film, with "The Rose", Mark Rydell even made the rock star lifestyle look depressing, so as if family pond trips weren't already a bummer, just wait until you see this. No, really, I would recommend that you see this film, because it's a good note for Henry Fonda to go out on, despite its shortcomings.

This film holds the potential to be pretty refreshing for what it is, and in a couple areas, it is, but on the whole, it's pretty predictable, hitting a number of tropes as it progresses down a familiar path, and at something of a limp clip, as well. Mark Rydell's steady directorial approach to storytelling is thoroughly realized more often than not, with adequate entertainment value and a solid deal of intrigue, but things really start to bland up once Rydell loses material to draw upon, as he does fairly often, or at least just often enough. By that, I mean that there is enough dragging to the storytelling to beget a sense of repetition, if not aimlessness, until the film begins to lose focus, if not consistency to focus. Minimalist though this film's narrative may be, it does have certain distinct segments, and a sense of aimlessness goes exacerbated by jarring shifts between them, established through the film's dedicating too much time to each segment, yet not enough time to fleshing out the layers of this plot. Immediate development is barely there, and gradual exposition does have its lapses, in spite of nuanced storytelling whose depth would be more realized if there weren't certain sentimental extremes to the dramatics which shake a sense of genuineness, and overemphasize an ambition to milk this drama for all its worth that, in turn, overemphasizes the limitations of this drama. There is plenty about this story which is rich with a potential that, upon being hit, is thoroughly fulfilled, but there's also a lot of simplicity to it, and that is stressed by the predictability and questionable pacing and structure of this inspired, but ambitious and sometimes sentimental project. Of course, the final product compels pretty thoroughly throughout its course, delivering on resonance for every challenge to engagement value, to the point of immersing, with the help of a distinguished setting.

As the title might suggest, this film focuses a good bit on its setting, filmed at Squam Lake in Holderness, New Hampshire, a lovely location that the filmmakers explore thoroughly, and polish through cinematography by Billy Williams that only stands out with its lighting, but stands out a good bit in that department. There's something beautifully tender about the visual style of the film, and about Dave Grusin's score, which is underused and conventional, but tasteful and lovely in its complimenting the genuine heart that drives a lot of the storytelling, and the story concept itself. The subject matter followed by the film may be predictable and light in scale, but it is of considerable value, at least in theme, dealing with an aging man coming to terms with his condition and finding a firmer grip on life, partly through his relationship with loved ones. Ernest Thompson's script is not as extensive as it could have been in fleshing out its narrative, no matter how much fat it leaves around the edges of storytelling, but it holds your attention through clever dialogue and humor, as well as a number of thoughtful spots to characterization that draws distinguished roles for the intimate storytelling to thrive on. Even Mark Rydell's direction is intimate, with a thoughtfulness that is a pinch bland at times, but near-consistently realized, enough so to milk the wit of Thompson's writing and sustain plenty of entertainment value, punctuated by sentimental touches that, when subtle, are near-piercing in their genuineness and resonance. This is a very moving character study, but it couldn't be if the characters weren't so well-portrayed, and sure enough, just about everyone delivers, with the lovely Jane Fonda, the endearing Dabney Coleman and the young Doug McKeon being pretty convincing in their respective supporting roles, while Katharine Hepburn, with her classic sparkling charisma at its most realized, would have stolen the show, if it wasn't for Henry Fonda's final performance, which is rich with charm, and with effortless dramatic layers whose more subtle spots capture a sense of fear in a man nearing the end of a long and happy life, and whose more charged spots sell the great deal of life and humanity still left in the Norman Thayer Jr. character. This is among the better performances Fonda gave throughout his career, and is therefore a good note for him to go out on, for it does about as much as the inspired storytelling when it comes to driving the final product as a touching tribute to life.

In closing, the film is a little predictable, draggy and slow, and fairly uneven, with enough undercooked and sentimental touches to emphasize the natural shortcomings that most threaten the final product, whose solid engagement value is consistently and firmly secured by the lovely location, cinematography and scoring, clever writing, tasteful direction, and inspired performances - especially the final one by Henry Fonda - which drive Mark Rydell's "On Golden Pond" as a consistently compelling and sometimes deeply moving drama.

3/5 - Good
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