Follow TV Tropes


Film / Cocoon

Go To

"It is everything you've dreamed of. It is nothing you expect."

Cocoon is a 1985 American sci-fi/fantasy film directed by Ron Howard, with an Ensemble Cast that includes Don Ameche (who won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor), Wilford Brimley, Hume Cronyn, Brian Dennehy, Jack Gilford, Steve Guttenberg, Maureen Stapleton, Jessica Tandy and Gwen Verdon. The film also won the Oscar for Best Visual Effects, beating out Young Sherlock Holmes and Return to Oz.

A group of trespassing senior citizens get more than they bargained for when swimming in the neighbors' pool restores their health and gives them youthful vigor. Unbeknownst to them, a group of aliens called Antareans are on a search-and-recover mission to retrieve twenty cocoons containing their crew mates from the ocean floor, and are renting that house and using the pool to store their cocoons. When the two groups come together, everyone involved has to make major decisions that will affect their futures.

Followed by a 1988 sequel (Cocoon: The Return), which was not directed by Ron Howard but did reunite the entire original cast.

These movies provides examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: When Ben first enters the pool, he says "The Marines have landed." Wilford Brimley served in the US Marine Corps.
  • Aliens in Cardiff: If you had to pick where aliens would make contact, you wouldn't guess Coral Gables, FL.
  • Ancient Astronauts: The Antareans have visited Earth before in prehistoric times.
  • Atlantis: Walter brings up it would be the perfect spot for their first base here on Earth.
    Walter: Everyone else said, "use the North Pole", and I said, "no, too cold". Sinking never occurred to me.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Walter is an all-around Nice Guy. But when everyone in the retirement home breaks into the poolhouse, completely undoing everything the Antareans have done, he comes in and bellows at them to stop and gives them all a brutal dressing down. In that one moment, you realize you do not want to piss Walter off.
  • Cassandra Truth: Art, Ben, Joe, and Bernie are told to keep breathing oxygen when they claim to have seen aliens.
  • Cool Old Guy: Most of the elderly cast, especially Ben, have some of this at the beginning. They take several levels in it when the effects of the pool start to show.
  • Distracted from Death: Rosie dies in the first movie when Bernie leaves her side just long enough to get some pills and water for her.
  • Ditto Aliens: The Antareans, to such an extent that Kitty can easily impersonate Phil in the second movie.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: A group of senior citizens fly away to another world where they will enjoy eternal life and good health. More or less lampshaded by the minister at a funeral service held for the retirement community residents (it was assumed by all that the boat sank and the seniors on board all died) who speaks of them now being in Heaven for eternity.
  • The Eeyore: Bernie is a grouchy killjoy who seems to resent the fact that Ben, Joe, and Art are having such a good time, partly because he disapproves of anything that tries to cheat nature's course of old age and eventual death.
  • The Fatalist: Bernie is opposed to using the alien "fountain of youth" to prolong one's life, being a firm believer in accepting what life has to offer and not trying to cheat fate (although he violates his own principles once, when stricken with grief over Rose's death).
    Bernie: You play the cards you've been dealt. You don't get to reshufle the deck!
  • Fountain of Youth: By way of the pool the Antareans set up for their cocoons.
  • Full-Body Disguise: The Antareans.
  • G-Rated Drug: Jack and Kitty's dinner in the second movie ends badly.
  • G-Rated Sex: Antareans have sex by "sharing themselves" (exchanging energy). Kitty says it's "very fulfilling".... and Jack seems to agree, saying, "If this is just foreplay, I'm a dead man."
  • Healing Hands:
    • Kitty fixing Jack's broken foot.
    • In the second movie, Joe gave up his life energy to save Alma's life.
  • House Squatting: Played With as many of the senior citizens in the film sneak over to a nearby house for rent - but not to live there, just to use the swimming pool.
  • Humanity Is Infectious: Walter, when the newly-uncocooned Antarean dies in his arms. For the first time in his very long life, he cries.
  • I Choose to Stay: Bernie chooses to remain on Earth. In the sequel, Alma, Ben, and Mary do as well.
  • In Name Only: The first movie was based on an unpublished novel, which was eventually published as the film's Novelization. Aside from the names of the characters, it's pretty different. The second movie's novelization followed on from the plot of the first, diverging even further from the plot of the movie it was ostensibly based on.
  • Innocent Aliens: When one of the cocoons dies, Walter confesses to Ben that he has never lost anyone close to him before.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Ben Luckett is his grandson David's best friend, and the boy seems to be well-liked by most of the other people at the retirement community. Lampshaded when Ben tells his grandson that as much as he loves his company, David needs to learn how to make friends among people his own age too.
  • Interspecies Romance: Jack, a human, and Kitty, an Antarean.
  • Intoxication Ensues: Some human foods don't agree with Antareans!
  • Jerkass: The orderlies are real assholes.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: While the orderlies are obnoxious jerks, it makes perfect sense for them to be skeptical of a bunch of old men claiming to have had encounters with extraterrestrials - after all, their space alien story does seem wildly implausible. There's the additional fact that the orderlies were probably used to dealing with residents who have mild dementia, and with lonely elderly people who make up fanciful stories to get attention.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Bernie is a dyspeptic killjoy early on the in the film, but he's truly devoted to his wife Rose, and towards the end of the film he makes it a point to say goodbye to all of the departing members of the nursing home.
  • Mayfly–December Romance: Jack, a human with an ordinary human lifespan, and Kitty, an Antarean who has already lived for thousands of years.
  • Motherly Scientist: Sara, in the second movie, acts this way towards Phil.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The teaser trailer for ''Cocoon II: The Return'' is made up of recycled footage from the first film plus a scene of Jack on his boat that never appears in the actual movie. And Jack has a different boat in the movie, too.
  • Older Than They Look: The Antareans.
  • The Peeping Tom: How Jack discovers that Kitty is an alien.
  • Phosphor-Essence: In their true forms (after taking off their human disguises) the Antareans glow brightly.
  • Please Wake Up: Bernie to Rose, who has just passed away, as he tries to resurrect her with the life-giving pool. Which no longer has life-giving properties.
  • Precision F-Strike: Ben, when they discover that the neighbors are aliens: "Open the f**kin' door, Lefkowitz!"
  • Raging Stiffie: One of the side effects of the pool.
  • Shout-Out: "May the Force be with you!"
  • Stay with the Aliens: Ben and Mary, Alma and Joe, Art and Bess.
  • Take Me to Your Leader: Reversed when Ben gets Pillsbury to take him to see Walter to negotiate the use of the swimming pool for himself and his friends.
  • They Would Cut You Up: Said almost word-for-word by Jack in the second movie when a team of scientific researchers manage to get their hands on a cocoon.
  • Time Abyss: The Antareans.
    Walter: Every ten or eleven thousand years or so, I make a terrible mistake.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: One trailer explicitly revealed that Walter, Kitty, et al were aliens.
  • Two-Person Pool Party: Jack and Kitty.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Ben, talking about his Raging Stiffie: "Blue steel. Cat couldn't scratch it!".
  • We Are as Mayflies: The aliens have lifespans of thousands of years.

Alternative Title(s): Cocoon The Return