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Friday, August 25, 2006 - Page updated at 12:41 AM

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Movie Review

"Boynton Beach Club": Dignity is missing from tale of widows, widowers starting over

Special to The Seattle Times

It's been years since most of the actors in "Boynton Beach Club" (including three supporting-actress Oscar nominees) have been offered decent movie roles. Unfortunately, the drought continues with this unsatisfying comedy-drama, which features a cheesy golden-oldies soundtrack that feels even more packaged than the dialogue.

Movie review 2 stars

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"Boynton Beach Club," with Dyan Cannon, Len Cariou. Directed by Susan Seidelman, from a screenplay by Seidelman and Shelly Gitlow. 104 minutes. Not rated; includes frequent sexual references. Seven Gables.

The dishonesty begins with the title, which leaves out one key word in order to appear more inviting on a marquee. The aging Florida widows and widowers who drive the story are attending the Boynton Beach Bereavement Club, thank you. They're not there to kick sand but to confess their anger and loneliness and find ways to start over.

Marilyn (Brenda Vaccaro) lost her husband in a traffic accident caused by a selfish cellphone addict. Jack (Len Cariou) helped his dying wife get through chemotherapy by smoking pot with her. Lois (Dyan Cannon) is a decorator whose brassy gregariousness hides a tragedy. Sandy (Sally Kellerman) is covering up something less crucial, and so is Donald (Michael Nouri).

Director and co-writer Susan Seidelman ("Desperately Seeking Susan") turns most of their dilemmas into sitcom material. Will Lois and Donald ruin their relationship by playing hard-to-get? Will Jack ever learn to cook like his new pal Harry (Joe Bologna)? Will Marilyn accept a dog as a substitute for her husband? Will their kids ever leave them alone?

The actors work hard to rise above the material, and Cariou, Vaccaro and Kellerman come close to creating three-dimensional characters. None, however, can touch the soulfulness of Joan Plowright's aging widow in "Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont" or the exquisite angst of Jack Nicholson's rudderless retiree in "About Schmidt." Senior-citizen classics may be rare, but "Boynton Beach Club" is not operating in a vacuum.

John Hartl: johnhartl@yahoo.com

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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