Cocoon: The Return (1988)


Five years after they decided to hitchhike a ride to the stars, a group of old folks accompany the aliens from the planet Anterea on a journey back to Earth to retrieve the cocoons that they were forced to leave behind.

Reaction & Thoughts:

“He is my friend, and we are going to take him home.”

Ever since I watched it a few days ago, I’ve been trying to figure out why I didn’t like Cocoon: The Return, the sequel to 1985’s unexpected hit Cocoon. The film reunited most of the creative team responsible for the 1985 summer blockbuster (minus director Ron Howard, who refused to take part in the movie), and yet I kept asking myself why this sequel isn’t as good as the original. I might finally have an answer.

Cocoon: The Return was directed by talented Canadian filmmaker Daniel Petrie (My Name Is Bill W.) and the screenplay was done this time by Stephen McPherson, but together they couldn’t overcome the fact that the original movie had a perfectly constructed three-act structure that doesn’t lend itself to a sequel.

It’s evident that the filmmakers ran out of ideas, and they were content with ripping themselves off. Cocoon: The Return is a regurgitation of all the issues that were satisfactorily resolved at the end of the 1985 movie. Furthermore, this sequel steals shamelessly from various 1980s fantasy movies, including Steven Spielberg’s classic E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) and Ron Howard’s Splash (1984).

It’s the hugely likable cast that keeps the movie afloat. The old gang is back — Don Ameche (Ernst Lubitsch’s Heaven Can Wait), Wilford Brimley (The China Syndrome), Hume Cronyn (Lifeboat), Jessica Tandy (Driving Miss Daisy), Maureen Stapleton (Airport), Gwen Verdon (Damn Yankees), Jack Gilford (A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum), etc. — and they deliver the goods once again.

In addition to the aforementioned actors, Brian Dennehy (First Blood) briefly reprises his role as the leader of the aliens. There are a few new faces. Beloved Broadway legend Elaine Stritch plays Gilford’s sharp-tongued girlfriend, and a very young Courteney Cox (Scream) plays a kindhearted scientist. All in all, it’s an impressive collection of actors. Sadly, the movie doesn’t really deserve such an influx of amazing talent.

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

Even with a cast like this one, Cocoon: The Return doesn’t amount to much. It’s practically a remake of the original, and that was frustrating to watch. There is nothing new here. I wasn’t angry or anything like that (it isn’t a terrible movie). I was just disappointed by how lazy it was — there was no attempt to conceal the fact that this is essentially a cash-grab sequel. Color, 116 minutes, Rated PG.

12 responses to “Cocoon: The Return (1988)

  1. A sequel that could have been done many years later with a newer cast and story pitch might’ve been a better option. Worked for Blade Runner 2049. Thanks, Eric, for your review.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Agreed. Blade Runner 2049 was surprisingly good! I also enjoyed Color of Money (1986), the belated sequel to The Hustler (1961). Plus, I think I’m the only one who likes Return to Oz (1985).

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yeah, if you’re gonna spend all your time cannibalizing all the elements from the first film, you obviously just wanted a sequel and to relive the success of the first one, rather than having any solid ideas that moved the whole story forward. I agree with SciFiMike–wait a while and let it age! Even though I can’t stand Ryan Gosling, lol, I loved the new Blade Runner. Sometimes it works out well.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ryan Gosling may not have much of an acting range. But I at least admire how his cool and calm portrayal of toughness made him a fine fit for his roles in Blade Runner 2049, Fracture and Drive.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Gosling is a little too “calm” for my taste (does he have a pulse?). But I do agree that he was effective in Blade Runner, and in his two movies with Nicolas Winding Refn, Only God Forgives and Drive. Winding Refn put Gosling’s lack of charisma to good use.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Gosling is also quite excellent with Bradley Cooper in ‘The place beyond the pines’. Gosling is quite striking in the role. Underrated film in my opinion. Nice discussion of his career in a ‘Cocoon II’ thread. I would also recommend that film he played a Jewish neo nazi and ‘Lars and the real girl’ which one has to see to believe.

          Liked by 2 people

          • Although I usually can’t stand him, I kinda liked Gosling in Lars. I also liked him in All Good Things, where he plays convicted killer Robert Durst. But he put me to sleep in First Man (as Neil Armstrong), The Big Short, etc.

            Liked by 1 person

    • I thought I was the only one who didn’t like Gosling. Bland, bland, bland! I dislike Ryan Reynolds for the same reason. In fact, I always confuse them! They remind me of boring actors like Dennis Morgan, Tom Tryon, Rob Lowe, etc.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Yeah, the sort of expressionless one-note thing Ryan Gosling does DID work well for Blade Runner. He was good in that role. But wait–how dare you confuse him for Ryan Reynolds, lol !!! RR happens to be one of my (very) guilty pleasures–but only in comedies. I know HE’S one note, too, even with comedy, but he cracks me up every time. I guess I’m just a simpleton, lol

    Liked by 2 people

    • No need to explain, we all feel like having a plain sandwich now and then. Right? 😉 Mine is Andrew McCarthy. He ain’t oozing with charisma, but I love him in Heaven Help Us, Pretty in Pink, etc. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that Mannequin is a guilty pleasure of mine.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Yes, Andrew McCarthy! Same here!
    Another understated actor, I think, is Ethan Hawke, who’s always tried unusual roles. If you’ve never seen Predestination… you will NOT believe the twists and turns in that thing. If you don’t do a review, I guess I’ll have to, lol………

    Liked by 2 people

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