28th Jun2021

‘Senior Moment’ Review

by Matthew Turner

Stars: William Shatner, Jean Smart, Christopher Lloyd, Esai Morales, Katrina Bowden, Carlos Miranda, Don McManus | Written by Kurt Brungardt, Christopher Momenee | Directed by Giorgio Serafini

William Shatner proves he’s still got it by headlining this romantic comedy at the grand old age of 90. Admittedly, the script’s a little creaky, but the film stays watchable thanks to Shatner’s star power and a charming support performance from co-star Jean Smart.

Shatner plays Victor Martin, a former NASA pilot who’s retired to Palm Springs, where he spends his days cruising around town in his beloved Porsche, hanging out with best friend Sal (Christopher Lloyd) and occasionally chasing much younger women, like car magazine model Kristen (Katrina Bowden, formerly of 30 Rock).

However, after his car spins out of control during a race against cheeky low rider Pablo (Carlos Miranda), Victor has his licence temporarily revoked and winds up meeting cafe owner Caroline (Smart) when he has to take public transport. A more age-appropriate romance ensues, but Victor’s jealousy threatens the romance after he spots Caroline getting close with another man (Esai Morales).

Amusingly, Shatner is playing 72, a full 18 years younger than his actual age, and, perhaps not coincidentally, three years older than Smart’s real age. In fairness, he delivers a remarkably lively performance and still has something of the Captain Kirk-style twinkle in his eye, generating strong, likeable chemistry with Smart.

Truth be told, Smart has long been one of Hollywood’s best unsung actors (most recently smashing it as Kate Winslet’s mum in Mare of Easttown), and she’s on typically great form here, delivering a relaxed, comfortable performance that has you smiling just from her cheerful presence alone. Similarly, it’s always nice to see Christopher Lloyd, even when, as here, he isn’t given all that much to do, and there are equally likeable turns from Easi Morales and from Don McManus as Rock, a low-rent lawyer type who promises Victor he can get his car back.

Unfortunately, the dialogue leaves a lot to be desired, plus there are plenty of spaces where there ought to be jokes and instead there’s just silence. In addition, director Giorgio Serafini has no idea how to stage a comedy scene or a decent set-piece, with one key sequence involving a giant papier mache tortoise falling particularly flat.

The film is especially frustrating because there are multiple moments where another crack at the screenplay could have worked wonders. For example, there are repeated scenes in which Victor stomps past a friendly neighbour, before eventually stopping and getting to know him, suggesting that the film’s original intention was for Victor’s experiences to make him a better person, Groundhog Day-style, but that just doesn’t come across.

On a similar note, the film is a little crass in places, most notably in the opening and closing scenes, with Shatner’s final line being particularly excruciating. There’s some frankly outrageous sexism too – one of Rock’s tactics towards helping Victor pass his driving test involves parading bikini-clad young women past him to try and break his concentration.

The occasional wobble aside, this is all very gentle and amiable, especially if you’re a long-time Shatner fan or a Jean Smart devotee. Here’s hoping they get to work together again, on something a bit better.

** 2/5

Senior Moment is available stream online from today.

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