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Age Of Reason?

By Shorty LaBrea

What is it about Hollywood that makes it necessary to greatly exaggerate ages in films? We have reached a point where Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones being an item in this year's crime-drama Entrapment does not seem to be all that unreasonable. Let's do a little math... Sean was born in 1930... Catherine in 1969. See my point? There are countries younger than their age difference. In fact, Sean did most of his James Bond roles before she was even born. (Of course I still think his shining moment was as the singing farm-hand in Darby O'Gill and the Little People. Missed that one? Check Disney Channel around St. Paddy's Day.)

There seems to be plenty of these old-guy-gets-a-much-younger-woman movies floating around in Hollywood. How about the 23 year difference between Robert Redford and Kristin Scott Thomas in The Horse Whisperer? Or 27 year difference in Six Days, Seven Nights? Not only does the man's man, Harrison Ford, get a young chick but she's a lesbian too! Some guys have all the luck.

These pairings are painted with Hollywood's rosy tint to seem like a very normal and everyday event. I find it interesting to note that often in the opposite case, an older woman with a younger man, which is seen far less frequently, there is often a reason given for it in the script itself. Take a look at the 14 year difference between Susan Sarandon and James Spader in White Palace or the (grand)mother-of-all age differences in the 1971 film, Harold and Maude. Ruth Gordon was born in 1896. Bud Cort was born in 1950. You do the math.

The twists of the time-table are not limited to adult couples. Have you ever noticed that Hollywood teens seem much more mature than the cracking voice and awkward clumsiness of Peter Brady? I have reached the ripe old age of 25, which means that I am just about at the point where I can play a high school senior in a Hollywood film. Ralph Macchio playing the character of Daniel in the first three Karate Kid movies is the classic example of this age-ism. Ralph was 23 at the time of the first installment in 1984 and 28 by the third. Not quite a "kid" anymore.

Kevin Bacon is also a good example. That same year as the first of the chop-socky family films was released, a little movie by the name of Footloose came out. Mr. Bacon was a youthful 26 at the time. No wonder I couldn't compete with him for the affections of the girls in my school. A year later, another Footloose star, 20 year-old Sarah Jessica Parker, starred in Girls Just Want to Have Fun with 22 year-old Helen Hunt, 19 year-old Jonathan Silverman* and 14 year-old Shannen Doherty.

Now we reach the truly great moment... in 1986, Francis Ford Coppola directed a time-travel film that answered the question, "What would you do if you could do it over?" In Peggy Sue Got Married, that answer was definitely: marry a young stud, give birth to hot age-defying daughter, then run around for the rest of the movie handing out lyrics to songs that have not even been written yet, and give information on big-selling products of the future with such an air of casualness that Doc Brown would probably have a coronary. So what's the deal you ask? KATHLEEN TURNER, our beloved Peggy Sue, was born on June 19, 1954. Her husband Nicolas Cage (nee Coppola) arrived kicking and screaming into this world on January 7, 1964. Ten years, no big deal you say? Look at Sean and Catherine? Well, how about this one... Kathleen and Nicolas' love child in Peggy Sue Got Married is played by none other than Helen Hunt, born June 15, 1963. Time-travel DOES have its advantages, particularly when the daughter can be 6 months older than the father.

Sure, maybe I'm being hyper-critical. Maybe I'm not being a good little member of the viewing public and suspending my disbelief for a moment to be lost in the magic of Hollywood. Hang on a second... let me give this a try... ok, we take two guys' guys (as long as we don't have to pay too much for them), give them names of a motorcycle and a pack of cigarettes, throw in a beautiful woman and a bunch of explosions. What do you think? I'm sorry. There's not enough beer in the whole world.

*our second Jonathan Silverman name-drop in this issue.
Any affiliation, association, or endorsement of
Mr. Silverman or his work is purely incidental.


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