Movies for aging boomers

February 04, 1994|By Stephen Hunter | Stephen Hunter,Sun Film Critic

Driving home the other day, listening to the radio I heard a reference to the "key demographic marketing group, the 25 through 52s."

Hmm, I thought, not bad.

Ten minutes later I heard reference to the same group, only now it was "the 25 through 54s."

Even better: The "key group" had matured two more years in 600 seconds. The baby boom -- epicenter of popular culture all these years -- is aging fast.

We see that phenomenon reflected in coming movies, which tend to stress family values, togetherness, less risque (and risky) forms of comedy. Thus the films seem to feature less on the blood and gore quotient, and even when they do they are usually linked to baby-boomer themes such as nostalgia or ecology. The larger arc to the season is that there are more films for the whole family as boomers, their kids getting older, cling to the things that matter.

Alas, their teen-agers have been largely ignored, though there are one or two films strictly engineered for the twentysomethings.

A subtheme for local interest is the presence in the lineup of three films shot in Baltimore.

Here's a rough look at the next three months of movie-going, offered with the proviso that such things are always somewhat sketchy and that films mysteriously appear and disappear as the weeks progress.

FEB. 11: "The Getaway" re-creates one of the early '70s' coolest movies, the one with Steve McQueen and Ali MacGraw. Well, actually, the movie wasn't so cool, but the fact that McQ. stole MacG. from hotshot pretty boy producer Bob Evans . . . that was really cool. No stealing in this version, as the couple involved is already married -- Alex Baldwin and Kim Basinger, as Doc and Carol McCord, bank robbers extraordinaire who pull off a job for a corrupt official and must flee for their lives while being pursued by both cops and robbers. It's from a Jim Thompson novel.

The other three openers next weekend are primo family fare: "Blank Check," with Brian Bonsall as a kid who comes up with a million-dollar check swiped from some embezzlers; "My Girl 2," returning Anna Chlumsky, Dan Aykroyd and Jamie Lee Curtis, only this time depositing the little cutie in L.A.; and, Stephen Frears' extremely ingratiating down-home Dublin comedy about family life in the best sense, called "The Snapper." The title, a reference to a percolating baby in an unmarried daughter's tum, gives you some idea of the lack of sentimentality in this amusing film.

FEB. 18: This week offers up one of the genuine twentysomething jobs in Ben Stiller's "Reality Bites," with himself, Ethan Hawke and Winona Ryder as youngsters trying desperately to get above retail economy jobs without compromising their beliefs, all two of them. For the family audience, Shaq O'Neill makes his movie debut in "Blue Chips," as the savior of a faltering college basketball team coached by Nick Nolte. Finally, the "eco-thriller" "On Deadly Ground," in which karate guy Steven Segal (directing himself) fights a nasty oil company headed by Michael Caine for the purity of Alaska and the hand of Joan Chen. The previews look pretty awful, with Segal in a buckskin and bead coat and Caine having had some sort of gruesome plastic surgery that has turned him into Gig Young.

FEB. 25: The big number is "Sugar Hill," with Wesley Snipes as a drug dealer trying to get out of the rackets but having, as usual, a difficult time. Bad boy director Abel Ferrara is represented in a second remake of the classic little Don Siegel horror thriller "Body Snatchers" (1956); Gabrielle Anwar is one of the stars. Luke Perry stars as champion bull rider Lane Frost in "8 Seconds," although the people from PETA are already sending out nasty notes warning critics to go hard on rodeo-ing as an amusement. And, for those baby boomers who missed it the first time around, when they were just a tad too young for the X rating, John Schlesinger's "Midnight Cowboy," in a restored version, is being released.

Other February possibles include "Farewell My Concubine," still looking for a theater in Baltimore, "Blue," the same; and, "Romeo Is Bleeding," a crime melodrama with Gary Oldman and Lena Olin.

MARCH 4: March comes in like a lamb, with but two films on the fourth. First, "China Moon," a Florida thriller with Madeleine Stowe and Ed Harris billed as "erotic," whatever that means in the context; it was directed by former cinematographer John Bailey. Then there's the long-awaited and much anticipated "Angie," (originally called "Angie, I Says,") in which Geena Davis plays an unwed Italian mother in Bensonhurst; James Gandolfini, who was the tough hood memorably killed by Patricia Arquette in "True Romance," also stars, and Martha Coolidge directs.

MARCH 11: The first of several films shot in Baltimore arrives: "Guarding Tess," in which Nicholas Cage plays a Secret Service agent assigned to keep a former first lady -- the indefatigable Shirley MacLaine -- from coming to harm. At least in this one, Baltimore isn't supposed to be Cleveland.

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