Young@Heart

The aged sing rock classics in this documentary

click to enlarge ROCK OF AGES: Senior citizens belt out rock 'n' roll tunes in the documentary Young@Heart. - Fox Searchlight Pictures
Fox Searchlight Pictures
ROCK OF AGES: Senior citizens belt out rock 'n' roll tunes in the documentary Young@Heart.

A singing group composed of senior citizens (average age: 80) belting out oddball renditions of rock 'n' roll classics, the Massachusetts-based chorus Young@Heart are the subjects of a new documentary called, appropriately enough, Young@Heart. There's nothing fancy here — filmmaker Stephen Walker basically just alternates between documenting the chorus during an eight-week rehearsal period and showing us interview snippets with individual members — but the old coots are generally colorful enough to hold our interest, and it all culminates in a big, sold-out performance that provides the requisite emotional pay-off.

With performers of such advanced years and frailty, and considering the fairly extensive time period covered, we spend much of the movie waiting for a personal tragedy or two to occur, and so they do. In fact, by the end of the movie, it seems like the characters are dropping like flies, and it's all nearly too much. Luckily, the pathos is balanced by the good-natured goofiness of several of the movie's subjects, and the music's often not bad, either. Among the standouts are James Brown's "I Feel Good," The Ramones' "I Wanna Be Sedated" and a smoothly effective take on Bowie's "Golden Years."

There's certainly some fun to be had here but not without a degree of the gawking-at-the-geezers factor attached, whether it's watching the seniors trying to relate to the atonal dissonance of a Sonic Youth "song" or observing a couple of octogenarians trying to figure out which side of a CD faces up when you put it in the player. Walker's intrusive, slightly condescending interview style doesn't help much, either, but all is forgiven when he finally shuts up and allows the old folks to speak for themselves.

Young@Heart (PG) Stars Jim Arementi, Bob Cilman, Joe Benoit, Helen Boston, Louise Canady and Eileen Hall. Opens May 9 at local theaters. 3 stars

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