1992, PG, 102 min. Directed by Steve Miner. Starring Mel Gibson, Isabel Glasser, George Wendt, Jamie Lee Curtis, Elijah Wood.
REVIEWED By Pamela Bruce, Fri., Dec. 18, 1992
Ah, the sweet, sentimental, sacrificial nature of lost love slipping beyond the veil of the unknown -- through the death or disappearance. How well this formula has the ability to tug on the heartstrings to satiate the guilty pleasures of an audience, and Forever Young tries to offer itself up as a genuine source of viewing satisfaction in the lost love/tear-jerker genre. However, if you're in the market for a good cry at the movies, you're going to have to look elsewhere, for this film doesn't really know what kind of generic trajectory to follow. It is instead conveyed as a skimpy love story that forms a weak premise for a so-so take on a Saturday afternoon science fiction feature. The narrative is initially set in 1939, where Gibson, as the dashing test pilot Daniel McCormick, has just lost his childhood sweetheart (Glasser) to a coma from an accident. Grief stricken, McCormick decides to volunteer for his scientist friend's (Wendt) top-secret cryogenics experiment that is being conducted for the military. The next thing you know, it's 1992, and a young boy (Wood) stumbles across the vintage-futuristic mechanism that houses McCormick in frozen slumber, and he is accidentally revived in a Frankenstein-like manner. Once thawed, McCormick wanders (almost too comfortably) into his new life, trying to re-establish contact with his scientist friend, and becomes involved in the lives of the young boy who discovered him and his mother (Curtis). But, meanwhile, Big Brother in the form of the FBI and the military soon decide to close in on the case of this “misplaced popsicle,” and time begins to run out for McCormick to regain a fragment of his lost past. The problem with this film is that there is very little solid foundation established in the narrative to convince us that there ever existed an intense passion between the lovers to credibly support Gibson's sacrificing himself to the icy cryogenic unknown for the sweet agony of lost love. Gibson and Glasser's characters make pretty, soft-focused pictures of nostalgic romance together, yet it's purely superficial. Forget the heavy melodrama (Glasser's tragic accident occurs -- in the rain, no less, complete with emotional music -- after Gibson fails to propose) as well as Gibson's attempt at the brooding Rhett Butler look (after Scarlett took that fateful tumble). None of these conventions manages to defrost and spark the love story that might have been.