Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Reflections of Mid Life

Men of a Certain Age (2009)
Created by Ray Ramano and Mike Royce
Starring Ray Ramano, Scott Bakula, and Andre Braugher

When my son was just born, Everybody Loves Raymond first aired on tv.  I enjoyed it for awhile, but it got a bit stale.  How often can you watch a show whose plot revolves around sibling rivalry between two middle-aged men and their meddling mother?  So when I saw that Ray Ramano had a new show, I didn't rush in to view it.  But after seeing promos for Men of a Certain Ageat the movie theater three or four times, I decided to give it a watch.  I'm glad I did.  I was no fan of Ray Ramano before, but I am now.

This coming-of-age comedy focuses on three men in their late forties/early fifties who have been friends since at least college.  (The pictures in the opening credits indicate they've been friends since they were small boys.)  Owen (Andre Braugher) is married with two kids.  He is an overweight diabetic used-car salesman who works for his dad (Richard Gant).  He hates his dead-end job; his dad, a former NBA Lakers player, has picked another, more ambitious, employee to take over the dealership when he retires, as he has no faith in his son.

Terry (Scott Bakula) is the Peter Pan character who describes himself as "professionally charming."  A failed actor and part-time yoga teacher, he wants no strings in his personal life, preferring to date women in their twenties over those his own age.  Joe (Ray Ramano) had aspirations to be a pro golfer, but now owns a party store.  Separated from his wife (Penelope Ann Miller) and the father of two kids, Joe has a gambling addiction that puts him in regular contact with some pretty shady characters, especially Manfro, played by Jon Manfrellotti who worked with Ramano on Everybody Hates Raymond.   The tone of the show alternates between humorous and bittersweet.  There are some especially poignant moments when Owen helps out Terry.

The soundtrack mirrors Joe's taste--and mine--in seventies rock music.  Some of the many great tunes we are treated to include "Reflections of My Life," "One Tin Soldier," "Willin,'" "When I Grow Up to Be a Man," "Draggin' the Line," "Daydream," and "Taking Care of Business."  There's a really funny moment when one of Joe's teenaged employees says to him, "I know how much you like that music from the forties."  "Seventies," Joe corrects.

Being a woman of a certain age, I can certainly relate to the struggles of these three men as they face middle age.  They struggle with family, with marital and romantic relationships, with jobs and their places in society, with lost opportunities, with hopes and goals for their futures.  Time is pressing, but they aren't done living.

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