In Film

BooterNation Film Picks

Hollywood pays increasing attention to the lifestyles of later-life Americans – including both the pathologies and struggles that go with aging as well as virtues and inspiring victories, all of which bring purpose to life and meaning to longevity.  Inspiration comes in many forms – including drama (Unforgiven), comedy (About Schmidt), romance (On Golden Pond), western (High Noon) adventure (The Bucket List), even science fiction (Cacoon) and animation (Up).  In these and other films noted below we find stories of the search for purpose and meaning, estrangement and reconciliation, the struggle with boredom and mortality, and the virtues of patience and life-long devotion, curiosity, and determination.

The following are film picks based on the movies we've seen and liked.  You can recommend those you like and we will show your picks as well.  If you have other films that deal with issues of later-life and longevity, please let us know and we will list your nomination along with the rest.

Descriptions of the BooterNation picks are from the Internet Movie Data Base and can be found at

About Schmidt (2002)

125 min - Comedy | Drama - 20 December 2002 (USA)
A man upon retirement embarks on a journey to his estranged daughter's wedding only to discover more about himself and life than he ever expected.

Director: Alexander Payne

Stars: Jack Nicholson, Hope Davis and Dermot Mulroney

Cocoon (1985)

Cocoon (1985)

117 min - Adventure | Comedy | Romance -  21 June 1985 (USA)  

When a group of trespassing seniors swim in a pool containing alien cocoons, they find themselves energized with youthful vigor.

Director: Ron Howard

Stars: Don Ameche, Wilford Brimley and Hume Cronyn

Death of a Salesman (TV 1985)

Death of a Salesman (TV 1985)

130 min - Drama

An aging traveling salesman recognizes the emptiness of his life and tries to fix it.

Director: Volker Schlöndorff

Stars: Dustin Hoffman, Kate Reid and John Malkovich

Gran Torino (2008)

Gran Torino (2008)

116 min - Drama - 9 January 2009 (USA)

Disgruntled Korean War vet Walt Kowalski sets out to reform his neighbor, a young Hmong teenager, who tried to steal Kowalski's prized possession: his 1972 Gran Torino.

Director: Clint Eastwood

Stars: Clint Eastwood, Bee Vang and Christopher Carley

Grumpy Old Men (1993)

Grumpy Old Men (1993)

103 min - Comedy | Drama - 25 December 1993 (USA)
A lifelong feud between two neighbors since childhood, only gets worse when a new female neighbor moves across the street.

Director: Donald Petrie

Stars: Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau and Ann-Margret

Harry and Tonto (1974)

Harry and Tonto (1974)

115 min - Adventure | Comedy | Drama - 15 January 1975 (France)  

When his apartment building is torn down, a retired lifelong New Yorker goes on a cross country odyssey with his beloved cat Tonto.

Director: Paul Mazursky

Stars: Art Carney , Ellen Burstyn  and René Enríquez

High Noon (1952)

85 min - Drama | Western - 30 July 1952 (USA)  

A marshall retires his badge to become a storekeeper but is compelled to return to help his town in the face of a deadly enemy, despite his own town's refusal to help him.

Director: Fred Zinnemann

Stars: Gary Cooper, Grace Kelly and Thomas Mitchell 

On Golden Pond (1981)

On Golden Pond (1981)

109 min - Drama | Romance - 22 January 1982 (USA)  

An aging couple, Norman Thayer, a retired and cantankerous professor, and devoted wife Ethel have long had a summer cottage on a lake called Golden Pond where they are visited by an estranged daughter.

Director: Mark Rydell

Stars: Katharine Hepburn , Henry Fonda  and Jane Fonda

Something's Gotta Give (2003)

Something's Gotta Give (2003)

128 min - Comedy | Romance - 12 December 2003 (USA)

A swinger on the cusp of being a senior citizen with a taste for young women falls in love with an accomplished woman closer to his age.

Director: Nancy Meyers

Stars: Jack Nicholson, Diane Keaton and Keanu Reeves

The Bucket List (2007)

The Bucket List (2007)

97 min - Adventure | Comedy | Drama - 11 January 2008 (USA)
Two terminally ill men escape from a cancer ward and head off on a road trip with a wish list of to-dos before they die.

Director: Rob Reiner

Stars: Jack Nicholson, Morgan Freeman and Sean Hayes

The Lion in Winter (1968)

The Lion in Winter (1968)

134 min - Drama | History | Romance - 30 October 1968 (USA)  

1183 AD: King Henry II's three sons all want to inherit the throne, but he won't commit to a choice. They and his wife variously plot to force him.

Director: Anthony Harvey

Stars: Peter O'Toole, Katharine Hepburn and Anthony Hopkins

Up (2009)

Up (2009)

96 min - Animation | Adventure | Comedy -  29 May 2009 (USA)
By tying thousands of balloons to his home, 78-year-old Carl Fredricksen sets out to fulfill his lifelong promise to his deceased wife to see the wilds of South America. Right after lifting off, however, he learns he isn't alone on his journey, since Russell, a wilderness explorer 70 years his junior, has inadvertently become a stowaway on the trip.

Directors: Pete Docter, Bob Peterson

Stars: Edward Asner, Jordan Nagai and John Ratzenberger

Waiting for God (BBC TV Series 1990–1994)

Waiting for God (BBC TV Series 1990–1994)

30 min each -  Comedy
When Tom Ballard moves to Bayview Retirement Village, he meets Diana Trent, a feisty old woman who complains about everything and wants nothing more than just to die. The two form a friendship and eventually a romance, helping each other out of tight situations.

Stars: Graham Crowden, Stephanie Cole and Daniel Hill


What do you do when your career is over but your life isn't?

Phil Burgess

Making later-life work

It’s better to wear out than rust out.”  That is the message of Reboot!  While American culture glamorizes the “Golden Years” of endless leisure and amusement, Phil Burgess rejects retirement, as he makes the case for returning to work in the post-career years, a time he calls later life.