AGE ISN'T EVERYTHING is an inverted BIG. In BIG, a 13-year-old boy goes to sleep and awakens inside his own adult body. In the former, a reluctant yuppie awakens with the anatomy of an octogenarian and a Yiddish accent of unknown origin. If this fails to entice, be advised that this
well-observed but somewhat uncheerful comedy is never entirely sure of its identity, or how to establish it.
The opening sequences are witty and auspicious. Seymour the baby observes the world and his doting family from the wide-angle perspective of the crib. When a boy, Seymour asks his father Max (Paul Sorvino) the height of a rocket. Lacking any other comparative reference, Dad indicates the water
tower above them. Then and there, Seymour starts to dream of the adventures to be had above the Earth. His aspirations are fired by Dad's aerospace job and the fond ideals that youngsters of yesteryear were wont to harbor.
That is, before the weight of modern life begins to close in. Glimpses of boyhood--Seymour calling to an evening star outside the front door, through a window in the shape of a quarter moon--give way to college graduation and ... the Real World. Seymour (Jonathan Silverman) rediscovers his
yearning to be among the astronaut elite, but is discouraged for no sound reasons by his parents, as if working for NASA were akin to a being a surf bum. Instead, Seymour is caged daily in a nondescript New York office and forced to yield up his childhood dream of space walking. "In short, I
became everything I never wanted to be."
The film begins its unwieldy detour when Seymour awakens in the middle of the night with a dazed expression, a failing body and a Yiddish accent. His father, mother Rita (Rita Moreno), and grandparents (Robert Prosky and Rita Karlin)--and the viewer--are puzzled and then annoyed by what appears
to be rebellion, a ploy or an upsurge of neuroses. After a battery of exams and tests, however, Seymour is diagnosed as a human anomaly: he may be 25 by birth, but his internal anatomy appears to be over 80. Worse still, this physical affliction is unlikely to reverse--or the symptoms that
accompany it. He was once able to quickly add columns of numbers; now, with a slower brain, it takes several minutes, and soon he cannot add at all. Seymour consults several psychiatrists, among them Bella Abzug and Dr. Joyce Brothers, who are of no help. Then he is fired from his job. "Capitalism
has no room for personal problems."
After a futile attempt to fathom his predicament, Seymour prepares to die. He gets no help from an elderly invalid woman who disdains this apparently young man and his stupid questions. He suggests that his rabbi conduct another bar mitzvah in the belief that reliving a rite of passage might
counter his decline. Despite other qualifications, Seymour's accent precludes a mundane white-collar job, and his decrepitude rules out manual labor. Dad finds a yellow pages ad for a clinic that treats aging disorders. But just as the head doctor--Ph.D. in neuropsychology, bioengineering and
television--seems about to explain Seymour's problem, she's busted by the IRS.
Seymour recounts for grandfather the day his Dad installed an air conditioner in his room, the sad day when Robert Kennedy's funeral train was televised and all innocence was forever lost. Dejected, Seymour vegetates before the TV as life passes across it. He takes the drastic step of seeking a
cemetery plot, but thinks it over and tears up the contract he was hustled into. Lured by the childhood symbol of the water tower, he climbs to its crown and surveys his world. Two concerned friends chase him. Is he suicidal, or reborn?
Director-writer Douglas Katz has fashioned a curious comedy. Customary wit is scarce. Evocative semi-documentary monologues are interwoven with flat and at times morose scenes of Seymour sinking into an old-age abyss. You are as young as you want to be, the subtext exclaims. The weight of years
should not stifle dreams or identity--a theme embodied by Prosky in his felicitous turn as Seymour's grandfather. But what should be, and is meant to be, a whimsical take on life is inhibited by dismay at its fleeting passage and a sluggish script that only belatedly revives.
Jonathan Silverman at first makes an appealing alta cocker, but ultimately grates with his two-note performance and long stares of anguish and confusion. Any ethnic in-jokes that account for the problems of this bissel meshugah are not readily apparent. (Profanity.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1991
- Rating: R
- Review: AGE ISN'T EVERYTHING is an inverted BIG. In BIG, a 13-year-old boy goes to sleep and awakens inside his own adult body. In the former, a reluctant yuppie awakens with the anatomy of an octogenarian and a Yiddish accent of unknown origin. If this fails to e… (more)