Review by Sean Boelman
Despite sounding extremely interesting on paper, Mark Lamprell’s Never Too Late is one of the most inconsistent genre mishmashes in recent memory. However, despite a script that too often can’t find its place, a talented ensemble is able to keep this film afloat, making it a mostly buoyant watch.
At its most basic level, the movie is about a group of seniors who plan to break out of their retirement home. Yet Luke Preston’s script (with story by himself and Grant Cater) adds so many layers of convolution to this basic premise that it eventually becomes utterly ridiculous, even if it has good intentions.
The film blends elements of old folks comedies, “one last hurrah” action flicks, and end-of-life dramas in a way that isn’t always satisfying. While it is cute at first to watch the protagonist as he tries to rekindle his relationship with his long lost love, this is soon buried beneath layers of jingoism and xenophobia tied to an overzealous story about veterans trying to recapture the “good ol’ days”.
Because the movie is so tonally uneven, the pacing also suffers. Even though it isn’t much over an hour and a half long, it becomes exhausting after a point to keep up with what the film is trying to be at any given moment. Perhaps with one or two subplots being trimmed, it would have worked much better.
The protagonist and his old flame are both extremely compelling characters, and his gang of former military buddies serve as fun, if archetypal, sidekicks. It is the story of a vindictive nursing home administrator and her curious son that falls the most flat, as this aspect of the story feels the most reliant on conveniences.
Visually, the movie is definitely somewhat weak. Much like many comedies aimed at older generations, the film is shot in a soft and oversaturated way. The result is a product that often feels excessively bright, even when the subject matter attempts to take a darker turn, and is consistently impersonal.
That said, the movie manages to work because of the efforts of its cast. Character actor James Cromwell takes the lead, and he seems comfortable in the role of the grumpy old man with a heart. And as always, Jacki Weaver is an absolute joy to watch, even though her turn is basically a glorified cameo.
Never Too Late doesn’t live up to its potential, but it does deliver some memorable performances from its cast. For those in need of a mostly wholesome flick to watch with their grandparents, this may suffice.
Never Too Late is now streaming in partnership with indie theaters. A list of participating locations can be found here.