Captive audience: The stars of Young @ Heart perform at a correctional facility.
But stick with it; even though the
chorus’ shtick seems gimmicky even for an Andy Rooney report, the
singers themselves rate as delightfully enthusiastic and personable.
Walker unexpectedly was handed a pair of character arcs when two
performers passed away during filming. (Let’s not reveal the
obituaries; find out yourself.) Yet for every moment that was created
specifically for the movie (such as producer Sally George’s music video
for “Staying Alive,” with chorus members hamming it up at a bowling
alley), there are sometimes poignant, other times invasive, glimpses of
the old-timers as they joyously push on despite their insurmountable
Walker doesn’t crowd his film with back
stories, so it’s never quite explained why the rock revolution still
seems so alien to these singers. Even though they’re in the
neighborhood of 80, they all must have been about 30 when Elvis started
swiveling his hips; were they old fogeys even during the Eisenhower
administration? Yet the concert preparations are always amusing,
especially when one singer tries to recreate James Brown’s yelp in “I
Feel Good” and the tongue-twisters that understandably erupt while they
attempt a cover of the Pointer Sisters’ “Yes We Can Can,” with its 71
“cans” in the lyrics. And deep-voiced Fred Knittle’s solo
performance—accompanied with the aid of his breathing apparatus, its
clicking noise inadvertently sounding like a metronome—is a special
From coots to Coldplay, from oxygen to octaves, Young @ Heart covers its bases with plenty of emotional uplift, while its chorus members offer some unexpected competition for Tony Bennett.