Shatner stars as Victor Martin, a retired NASA test pilot who kills his days zipping around Palm Springs in a vintage Porsche convertible hitting on beautiful ladies a fraction of his age. Whether or not anyone was aware this set-up is like a buddy-comedy version of Terms of Endearment is unclear. In that film, the washed-up horndog astronaut played by Jack Nicholson didn’t have a wingman, but now he does in the form of Lloyd’s character Sal. Coincidentally, Lloyd co-starred with Nicholson in the comedy Goin’ South and the Oscar-winning drama, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. The teaming of Lloyd with Shatner makes you feel like you’re going to get a rom-com version of The Expendables; a movie type in which old guy actors team up to discuss matters of the heart. Had the movie included hypothetical cameos from Michael Caine and/or a Harrison Ford, this could have invented a whole new movie genre. But alas, things stay pretty focused on Shatner.
Everything goes to hell when Victor gets caught drag racing. His driver’s license revoked and his car impounded, Victor must take public transportation, much to his utter mortification. However, on the bus, he meets Caroline (Jean Smart), a smart, attractive, age-appropriate lady who owns an all-organic cafe. And, so, Victor spends the next 90 minutes wooing Caroline, trying to reclaim his car back, chilling with Sal and their crew, and trying to figure out what’s up with Caroline and her painter friend (Morales).
That’s it, really! That’s the whole movie. Will Sal get the gal? Do Vulcans have green blood? There’s drama inherent in seniors losing their right to drive, and in seeking companionship late in life, but those plot points go boldly unexplored. Shatner more or less glides through the movie, smiling broadly, charming everyone around him, and coasting on personality. It works, mostly. He and Smart spark just enough to make one wonder how, not if, Victor and Caroline will hit upon their inevitable happy ending. Shatner, who turned 90 last month, plays 73 here, and he pulls it off. (For what it’s worth, Shatner’s Trek successor, Patrick Stewart, who is 80 IRL, recently played older; Jean-Luc was supposed to be 93 in Star Trek: Picard, which Stewart filmed when he was 78, so go figure that one out.)
Lloyd, sadly, has nothing to do except hide behind dark shades and a hat, though Bowden registers nicely as a much, much younger woman who spends a lot of time in Victor’s company (until the character just vanishes). Think too long about the Shatner-Bowden scenes – especially an ill-advised pool party sequence – however, and they’ll ring creepy and wrong.
Giorgio Serafini’s direction is best described as hands-off, as he seems content to turn on the camera, let his cast of old pros do their thing, capture some sleek cars and lush Palm Springs sunsets, and linger on the numerous pretty ladies who populate the film, most of whom are called upon to try to distract Victor as he prepares to retake his driving test. Oh, and that driving test. There are a couple of lengthy and not particularly funny driving test scenes in Senior Moment. When a similar scene in a decades-old Brady Bunch episode conveys far more tension and elicits many more laughs, that’s a problem. You want this movie to be derivative of William Shatner and Christopher Lloyd stuff, not the Brady Bunch. Oh well!
If Hallmark made telemovies for the older set, Senior Moment would feel right at home, as it’s an easygoing, super-lightweight geriatric rom-com. And if you’re willing to pay to see Shatner’s latest enterprise, you’re in luck, as it’s available now on VOD, with a Blu-ray release set to follow on May 4.
That said, if you want to see William Shatner and Christopher Lloyd at their most fun, maybe it’s best to rewatch Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, currently streaming on Hulu. Here’s Shatner and Lloyd’s excellent fight from that movie, in case you forgot how awesome it was. After all, the ’80s weren’t just about Back to the Future and Indiana Jones. Star Trek kicked ass back then, too.
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