Senior Moment tells the story of Victor Martin (William Shatner), a retired NASA test pilot who constantly wants to relive the glory days. Wheeling around his vintage convertible and pursuing (much) younger women, Victor lives to for the admiration of his friends. However, after drag racing his vehicle leaves him without a licence, Victor is forced to take public transportation and re-evaluate his priorities. Then, when he meets local restaurant owner Caroline (Jean Smart), Victor is instantly taken with her and believes he has found the one thing that has continued to elude him… love.
Directed by Giorgio Serafini, Senior Moment is a surprising amount of fun. Whereas the ‘boys never age’ genre can be hit (the goofy charm of Last Vegas) and miss (the utterly embarrassing Stand Up Guys), Senior Moment manages to find its groove due to the sheer joy of its two leads. Though he recently turned 90 (!), Shatner still carries a boyish humour and charm that makes him endearing. Playing a character almost 20 years younger than his actual age, he still bounds around the screen with an incredible amount of energy. (Admittedly, it’s a little off-putting to see his character pursuing women over 60 years younger than himself yet, because of the nature of the character’s emotional arc, it still somewhat works.)
Anchoring the film though is Smart who continues to bring a sense of authenticity to her performances. Smart always manages to bring a maturity to her roles yet she also seems to be really having fun here playing opposite Shatner. Though the script often lacks in consistency, the two of them have such great chemistry that Senior Moment manages to stay a fun ride throughout.
Like the other aforementioned examples of the genre, Senior is about trying to hold onto a past long gone. Devoted to his sports car, Victor believes he can keep up with the youth of today but attempts to do so mostly as bravado for his friends. For Victor, it is more important to be perceived as young by others than to actually keep up. (“I’m still trying to figure out what I’m going to do when I grow up,” he points out.) Looking for the approval of his peers, he will do anything to cling to his youth, whether he’s pursuing (much) younger women or racing his classic car.
To him, life is about the show.
However, when his driver’s licence is taken from him, he must accept reality (and responsibility) for his age. Forced to take the bus, Victor feels like a piece of himself has been taken away and he yearns to regain his life-blood. (Incidentally, while one wishes they would have taken this more seriously, Senior actually does a fairly good job of showing the impact that losing this form of independence can have on the emotional psyche of the elderly.) Moments like these help Victor to recognize that what’s truly important has been lacking from his life. As he becomes closer with Caroline, Victor experiences love for the first time and matures as a result. Though he never loses his youthfulness (as evidenced by his trip around the race track), he also begins to let go of his false perceptions about growing older.
Whereas his life once yearned to hold onto the past, Victor now grabs tightly to his future.
Filled with joy and vitality, Senior Moment sparks with enough fun to make it memorable. Buoyed by Shatner and Smart, the film overcomes its weaknesses with a surprising amount of enthusiasm and energy that gives the film life. As a result, though cliché in its approach, there’s still enough charisma embedded within Senior Moment to take it for a test drive.
Senior Moment is available in theatres on Tuesday, April 6th, 2021.