The Golden Boys -- Film Review

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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 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.

Opens: Friday, April 17 (Roadside Attractions)
Production: West Wind Prods.
Cast: David Carradine, Bruce Dern, Rip Torn, Mariel Hemingway, Charles Durning, John Savage
Director-screenwriter: Daniel Adams
Producers: Daniel Adams, Brian Gilmore, Ethan Gilmore, Matt Janes, Howard Katz, Michael Mailer
Executive producers: Chad Doe, Nicholas Stiliadis, Harris Tulchin
Director of photography: Philip D. Schwartz
Editors: Stan Cole, Susan Graef
Production designer: David Allen
Costume designer: Deborah Newhall
Music: Jonathan Edwards
No MPAA rating, 96 minutes