Art, Ben and Joe are back! So are their wives and good friend Bernie in their first adventure since their last! Five years since the senior citizens blasted off into space with the Antareans return to earth because their alien friends have to collect the rest of the cocoons in the ocean, believed to be in danger from an earthquake. Ben and Mary visit their family, while Art and Joe visit Bernie, who's still hangin' on. Art, Ben and Joe had forgotten what it was like on earth and immediately begin to feel their weaknesses, except for Art's wife who's pregnant! Meanwhile in the ocean, a biologist company snatched a cocoon out of the ocean and are doing research on it...
Directed by: Daniel Petrie
. Starring: Don Ameche
, Wilford Brimley
, Courteney Cox
, Hume Cronyn
, Jack Gilford
, Steve Guttenberg
, Barret Oliver
, Maureen Stapleton
, Elaine Stritch
, Jessica Tandy
, Gwen Verdon
, Tahnee Welch
, Linda Harrison
. Music by: James Horner
As other reviewers have noted, sequels rarely live up to the original. Such is the case with Cocoon the Return, but the film has so good in so many ways that the it truly deserves to be watched and enjoyed.
I think the first film was so spectacular because of the character portrayed by Wilford Brimley. Early on in the film, the character discusses taking risks with another character. He says something to the effect, "I have not taken a risk in years. It's not the risks you take in life that you regret. It's the risks you don't take" Later on in the film, the same character is discussing the possibility of going into outer space with his wife to escape the end of their lives. During the discussion he says, "Well I'll tell ya, with the way nature's been cheating us, I don't mind cheating her a little." I think these two quotes capture the way the first film focuses what's important to people in life and the universal human desire to beat death.
The second film deals with the issues of what is worth dying for and what is worth living for. The answer for both is love, and I think the film deals with these issues in tender and thoughtful ways. One way is the issue of self-sacrifice: Whether or not we will sacrifice our lives so the ones we love can live on. Another way involves choosing to accept the limits of mortality in return for spending some time with the one you love most rather than to live forever without them. Another way involves making hard choices for the love of your children.
I think the film does an excellent job with the grandfathergrandson relationship. I think it is harder for teenagers to interact with their grandparents than when they are little kids. I think teens don't always know what to say even though the love for their grandparents never diminishes. I think it is equally hard to grandparents to ever fully articulate how much their grandchildren mean to them. This film really captures this issue and there is a scene centered around a baseball game that really captures a magic moment. If I ever have a grandchild who plays any kind of sport, I am going to attend every game I possibly can and break all other commitments to be there for him or her.
I think the film only fails to live up to the first movie in two ways. The first is that the film fails to provide new discoveries for the viewers. Except for one modest supporting role, there are no new characters introduced into the story. The other way in which the film falls short is that the final adventure at the end is not suspenseful. Only the final choices made by the main characters give the viewer any sense of surprise. I think the best sequels are written so that they can be watched and fully engaged by viewers who did not see the original. Aliens, Superman II, the Empire Stikes Back, and Terminator II are a few good examples. The creators of Cocoon the Return forgot this golden rule and the film fell short of its full potential.
Finally, at least one critic complained that viewers never learn about what the elderly characters experienced in outer space. The critic has a valid point, but I think the film wisely focused on the issue that, no matter what supernatural experiences the elderly characters shared for five years, they remained human beings who could never deny the mortality of their children or themselves.
Review by jbradleyclarke from the Internet Movie Database.