Director Susan Seidelman started her film career 24 years ago with a small indie feature called Smithereens, a grubby romance set amid the punk scene of the Lower East Side. Three years later, she had a minor hit with Desperately Seeking Susan, which featured a certain mouthy singer named Madonna. Having covered New York City's wild youth, Seidelman turns her camera to those who might well have been those crazy kids' parents, now in their 60s and 70s, and retired to an affluent seaside community in Florida.
In Boynton Beach Club, we meet six seniors. Their point of intersection is a community bereavement club, but what really gets this genial romantic comedy revved up is the fact that they're all single. Harry (Joseph Bologna) counsels new member Jack (Len Cariou) that the club is a great place for men, who are significantly outnumbered by women. Sure enough, Sandy (Sally Kellerman) wastes little time handing over her card.
Recently widowed Marilyn (Brenda Vacarro) isn't so comfortable in the club, but joining it does spur a friendship with a vivacious neighbor, Lois (Dyan Cannon). Lois's not waiting for the men to come calling; she picks up the slightly younger Donald (Michael Nouri) in a coffee shop and is soon skating down the promenade with him.
In the counterpart to that perfect fantasy high school where most dating comedies occur, this gang noodles about in great health, with ample free time, lovely homes and, yep, even cool cars. But the course of true love (or even just easygoing companionship) doesn't run any smoother for the gray-haired set than it does for the pimply teens we're used to watching. For these seniors, all widowed, it's not about starting out in love, but about the trickier prospect of starting over and rebuilding one's self after being shattered by death.
In Seidelman's slightly naughty comedy, our characters suffer plenty of date-related embarrassment, from burnt meals to s-e-x. Yet while Boynton uses sex for humor, the film never patronizes, nor does it shy from the facts-of-late-in-life. Our seniors muddle through, determined not to drop their standards. They do drop a few reservations and, yup, a couple towels, too.
These are likable people, well played by familiar character actors of genuine age (no bad aging-makeup jobs, though I suspect a face-lift or two). You'll root for them. In many respects, Boynton is as predictable and rosy-colored as any teen romance comedy ... you can bet a month's worth of Social Security that everything will be resolved at the big dance ... but it's sweet, warm and wholly enjoyable.