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Movie review by David MalschLet me tell you about my Grandmother Elenna, Enny for short. She is one tough broad who recently turned 89 (sorry Grandma). At first glance, you would never guess her age because she looks great and once you sitdown and talk with her she seems even younger. I was her firstgrandchild, her first grandson, so from the very beginning she took me under her wing where I've remained now for over 40 years.
When I was a child we were very close. She was the one who always took me to the theatre and helped fund my ever-growing music collection. We even hungout together at the mall.She taught me how to play cards and gamble and even let me be her roommate one summer, even letting me stay after catching me sneaking out late at night. I couldn't ever imagine Enny not being in my life because she's always been there for me as my constant supporter and my oldest friend.
I mention this fabulous woman to you because of the new documentary, "Young@Heart." I couldn't help but think of Enny throughout watching this film. I felt her presence with me during this movie, as if we were back in theatre watching movies together. "Young@Heart" is a remarkable new release about an elderly chorus group outside of Boston. "So, what's such a bigdeal about that?" you might ask. Well, this ain't your normal choral group because the average age of each member is 80. These folks rock 'n' roll--seriously. "Young@Heart" was started in 1982 by its current director, Bob Cilman. In the beginning, they did old vaudeville numbers and classics. But somewhere along the road Bob decided to spice up the song set list by covering Beatles and Rolling Stones tunes. At each performance, it was this group of songs that would always bring down the house. It was such a success that before they knew it, these Grandmas and Grandpas were belting out punk music standards from The Clash and The Ramones to hip-hop favorites from Outkast.
When we first meet these wonderful people they are preparing for a new season of shows that will begin in less than seven weeks. The eagerness of the members to get back to singing with friends is amazing. They live for this choir and work tirelessly yet effortlessly to be great at it. This time around Bob has some tough new songs for his choir to tackle. This year they're going to do James Brown, Coldplay, and Sonic Youth. "Young at Heart" documents the journey from day one until their annual concert, which is sold-out every year. Thet Young@Heart choir then travels the country performing in addition to making an exhausting road trip to Europe and beyond.
This film is not just about the music that's sung but is about the power of that music and what it means to all of us. It is also, thankfully, about these wonderful people and who they are outside of the choir. It is a film about living life to the fullest and singing at the top of your lungs. It is also, regrettably, about old age and death. There is not a moment in this film that does not affect you at your core as a human being; never a moment that doesn't make you smile with joy or fill your eyes with tears. This film is a real crowd pleaser; audiences are eating it up. "Young@Heart" is simple a terrific movie.
I grew up with my Grandma being a member of the Sweet Adelines. She even hoodwinked me one year into joining the kid's chorus. Signing-up proved to me right then how much I loved her even though I didn't last very long in the group. Between her age and her love for singing, how could I not reminisce about my Grandmother when I saw this movie? There is no one I know who's more young at heart than her. She will outlive all of us because she's too stubborn and too tough to do otherwise. Being 2,000 miles away from my extended family is hard some days but it's was even harder for me this week after taking in this film.
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