April 17, 2009 / 5:51 AM / 10 years ago

"Golden" reduces '70s stars to grumpy old sailors

Actor David Carradine poses at the 60th Annual Directors Guild of America Awards in Century City, California, January 26, 2008. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - From its shameless riffing on the title of the Bea Arthur sitcom to its “Grumpy Old Men”-style humor, “The Golden Boys” is a sorry waste of the talents of three veteran actors who deserve far better material in their, well, golden years.

Nostalgia buffs might appreciate the chance to be reacquainted with David Carradine, Bruce Dern and Rip Torn — not to mention supporting players Mariel Hemingway, Charles Durning and John Savage. But this talky period piece — which Roadside Attractions releases Friday (April 17) — will find its true audience on cable.

Set in 1905 Cape Cod, the film revolves around a trio of aged former sea captains who live together in uneasy domestic circumstances. Tired of enduring supremely messy conditions and undigestible clam fritters, they decide that the best way to improve their lot is not by hiring a housekeeper but rather by finding a wife for one of them.

With much haggling over the proper wording, they place an ad in a big-city newspaper. After some initial confusion over mistaken identity, the answerer turns out to be — in traditional unlikely cinematic fashion — the delectable Martha Snow (Hemingway), who could clearly have just about any man she wants even in this pre-feminist era.

The bulk of the film’s running time, which proceeds at the pace of a lengthy sea journey, concerns the squabbling among the men over who will have to endure being married to this gorgeous creature. Would-be hilarity, and the inevitable love story, ensues.

Other less-than-compelling subplots are introduced into the narrative, including a dispute between a Bible-thumping oldster (Durning) and the owner of a billiards hall (Savage).

The actors are unable to breathe life into their cardboard characters and cornpone dialogue, though Carradine, as the most sensible of the trio, at least emerges with his dignity intact.

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