On Golden Pond - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

On Golden Pond Reviews

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½ July 13, 2014
Katharine Hepburn and Henry Fonda star in a film together...that's an achievement in itself. These two acting legends had reportedly never met before this film in 1981, which is hard to believe seeing as they'd both been going strong since the 30s. To wrap the review up in a nutshell, so I don't spend all day going into it's sensational qualities, the fines thing about this film, and it's most essential quality, is that it comes off as 100% real. The entire casts' performances, the writing, all of it comes off so natural we forget we're watching a movie.
The most cinematic things about "On Golden Pond", and possibly it's best assets, are the score and cinematography. The beauty of the opening sequence can't be put into words. It was like a moving painting with soothing, beautiful classical music to accompany the mood. "On Golden Pond" is simply filled with beauty and naturalism- and no film can wrong with that. Near perfection.
June 19, 2014
This is my favorite movie of all time. Timeless
June 8, 2014
"On Golden Pond" works through the same themes that occupied many big-time play adaptations between the 1950s and the 1980s. Like "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" (1958) and "The Lion in Winter" (1968) it is about inter- generational family dysfunction, and it seems to want to embarrass or shock the audience through a frankness of discourse. It is the kind of script that purports to peel away the supposedly-artificial niceties of middle-class life to get to the meat of matters, which in the minds of these kinds of playwrights always seems to mean sex and death. Tennessee Williams and James Goldman made that format dance, and watching the great Hollywood versions of their works is thrilling because of the way they constantly try to set new records for speed and intensity and brutal honesty. "On Golden Pond" imitates these classics but with a lower degree of commitment. It's slower and gentler, and it never seems to let a barb stand unaccompanied by a sappy line or a nostalgic musical cue. It's a movie that's easy to like, because it's a suger-coated pill. As Williams and Goldman knew, there's nothing challenging about a sugar-coated pill. To them, the purpose of writing characters who speak in a forthright way about difficult issues was to make us face our fears and anxieties, and their genius was to do this while also being entertaining. "On Golden Pond" wants to do these things, but it wants to go down easy. That impulse is not altogether a bad one; compare it with another play adaptation, 1966's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf," which aims to scream the loudest and cut the deepest only to end up as thoroughly unlikable as its characters. Toward the beginning, "On Golden Pond" echoes "Virginia Woolf" as Henry Fonda's irascible "old poop" tries to discomfit a polite younger man with blunt sexual talk. By the middle of the movie, though, this riff on Edward Albee's hard-edged approach gives way to a much sweeter narrative about an unlikely friendship between Fonda's 80-year-old and a 13-year-old boy. It's nice, but it's predictable and safe and familiar and forgettable whereas its predecessors succeeded by being none of those things. Katharine Hepburn and Henry Fonda are believable, though, and Jane Fonda threatens to upstage both of them as their adult daughter whose eyes betray an inner mixture of depression and resentment and a certain flightiness born of self-doubt. If nothing else, what "On Golden Pond" shares in full measure with its more ambitious and significant forerunners is magnificent acting by a top-shelf cast.
May 12, 2014
An incredible movie with amazing performances. This is my first time watching a Katherine Hepburn movie and boy am I excited to see her others. She really stands strong in this as well as Peter Fonda. Jane is great as well but it is not her career best. The son is great as well. The writing is stellar and the music and cinematography are great.
½ May 3, 2014
Touching, and Henry Fonda showed a side of his acting never before seen. Reminded me greatly of my own grandfather.
April 23, 2014
My Favorite Film Is 1941's Citizen Kane.
April 21, 2014
2 screen legends together for the only time, both in Oscar-winning performances. Throw in beautiful New Hampshire cottage country, and a relationship that seems as true and authentic as ever was portrayed onscreen. Oh and did I mention, it's funny as hell? Fonda gets the best lines, but who doesn't love an old grumpy man? Hepburn is her usual best, they really broke the mold on that one...Jane Fonda plays their daughter, adding some serious poignancy to the scenes of father and daughter, estranged for many years. One of the few movies you can actually call a feel-good without having to worry too much about sap and schmaltz. These actors are too good for that shit. Definitely a modern classic.
March 23, 2014
Just watched this for the first time since I did back in the 80's. It has fared well all these years, probably because it's a relatable character story and the relationships drive the plots.

Yes it's flawed. Yes it's simplistic to the point of being cliche at times. But it endures despite it's flaws. Many good movies are flawed as this is. It doesn't relish in it's conflicts and while most consider this a flaw I consider it a positive. I prefer more subtle films anyways; I don't care what exactly is the issue between father and daughter. Sex abuse? Physical violence? Mental abuse? Adding more of that wouldn't make the picture any better for me, and it would preclude my kids from seeing it.

Which by the way my animated loving 7 and 9 year olds, while griping at first, we're drawn into this film once it got going and the shorter run time made it a good time. Wait, almost 2 hours is a short run time? I guess time flies while your enjoying yourself.

To those critics that say this story is too sweet; um, it's a story about death and preparing to die. This film gracefully is full of substance if you're the type that doesn't need to be bashed over the head with it to get it. The world needs more films like this that rely on strength of substance than on plot device; that are relatable in a real way and honest enough to allow the relation to happen; that have real-world value and are accessible enough for it to be a benefit to the real-world.
½ March 11, 2014
A well executed drama, as well as tying in little bits of humor, "On Golden Pond" succeeds, mostly on its great performances by its leads.
½ February 23, 2014
This is a bit slow and uneventful, but Henry Fonda's character Norman is very endearing and he made it worth watching.
½ February 5, 2014
One of the best remembered films of my childhood. Both lead actors won the Oscar for best acting that year as well as best writing. A lovely film about getting old and getting over resentments of the past. Gorgeous scenery, amazing acting, and a beautiful score by jazz musician Dave Grusin. This film gets me to laugh and cry, especially the scene at the end when real father and daughter Henry Fonda and Jane Fonda reconcile their relationship. This movie is the definition of charming.
February 4, 2014
They rarely make movies this good these days. This one is just about perfect across the board.
Super Reviewer
January 28, 2014
Henry Fonda and Katherine Hepburn's farewell to the screen that provided so many wonderful memories is a jewel. A story of bonding through previous coldness. It is magnificent.
January 26, 2014
A classic!! Top of the line performances from Katharine Hepburn (never seen her better) and Henry Fonda!!! Great family movie!
January 16, 2014
This is what an academy award winning actor should be like - even on his death bed.
½ November 19, 2013
So old fashioned! The 70's orchestral music kills you! The acting is impressing, especially Henry Fonda and Katharine Hepburn's performances. The plot with the small kid is quite good but it's "dated"...
October 20, 2013
(a heart-warming story), though not nearly as good as I remembered it.
October 9, 2013
A charming drama that boasts some lovely cimenatography and fine performances.
hunterjt13
Super Reviewer
½ October 8, 2013
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.
August 31, 2013
Fell asleep halfway through. maybe it got better after that. But the first half was cranky old guy being cranky in ways that weren't amusing or endearing, just cranky. There was very pretty scenery if you can ignore the dialog and other signs of actors. waking up to old people cuddling in my living room while watching it ensured I won't be reattempting the second half, cause now I feel like it's tainted with my stepfather putting the moves on my mom and feels like old people porn. Save that shit for when I'm back in Colorado and don't have to see it.
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