Brings Old School Charm into Summer!

Old Stock
(Canada, 85 min.)
Dir. James Genn, Writ. Dane Clark
Starring: Noah Reid, Melanie Leishman, Meghan Heffern, Jack Daniel Wells, Corinne Conley, Ana Gerguson, and Gene Mack.
Melaine Leishman and Noah Reid star in Old Stock.
Courtesy of eOne Films
Some kids grow up too fast. Stock, played by Noah Reid (Score: A Hockey Musical), barely grows up at all. He goes from puberty to retirement with the snap of two fingers. Stock skips his college years, his midlife crisis, etc. and heads straight to the old folks' home after high school. Life at Golden Seasons is pretty swell for Stock: sweater vests are sexy, meals are free, and prescription meds are widely available.

Stock fits an old man’s sweater vest just fine, since he is a chivalrous old sport who probably wouldn’t jive with all the baggy pants wearin’ dudes of his graduating class. Nevertheless, he looks like a fish out of water amongst the residents of Golden Seasons retirement home. Stock opens the film by taking a group of prospective retirees (and, in turn, us) on a tour of Golden Seasons. “It’s an independent living facility for active seniors,” he says as he reveals wonders such as the arts and crafts room, the sisters of charity troupe called The Good Samanthas, and a healthy roster of horny old men. Why Stock lives in the Golden Seasons isn’t clear at first, but he seems far more comfortable with the seasoned blue hairs than he does with people his own age. He likes pants worn above the waist rather than below the bottom.

Stock’s time hiding out with his grandfather (Jack Daniel Wells), however, comes to an end when some local vandals target Golden Seasons and make it clear that Stock brought them there. Stock’s two years of ruling the Good Times Room with Millie (a fun Ana Gerguson), the charming leader of The Good Samanthas, or dominating the four-hole par two golf course are over.

Stock receives some much-needed help from Patti (Melanie Leishman), the new dance instructor at the Golden Seasons. A fiery redhead with a history of pyromania, Patti stands out among the silver foxes of the home. Stock’s misadventure with Patti teaches him to reclaim the youth he lost when he became a hermit at Golden Seasons.

The home of Golden Seasons is a charming setting, which enjoys a presence akin to a character, much like one sees in the play on place and space in the films of Wes Anderson. Set and shot in a real retirement home in Orangeville, Ontario, with some of the staff and residents participating as background players, Old Stock enjoys a fun, yet respectful, take on the idiosyncrasies our elders develop as we herd them away from the wild. The quirky atmosphere of the Golden Seasons is warm and inviting thanks to Old Stock's eclectic indie soundtrack and some old school lensing. (Stock feels inspired by the character-driven coming-of-age films of the 60s and 70s). The camera moves around the residence with an almost invisible air as Stock conspires to work his way back into the home and win over Patti without seeming too much like an odd duck.

Stock's lesson in growing up plays like an eccentric going-of-age story, for Stock needs to step back before he can move forward. Life outside the retirement how teaches him the joy of being his age. There's a time and place to be young and dumb, but Golden Seasons isn't the place to do it. Instead, Stock can learn from his horny grandpa and the Good Samanthas to embrace the one thing the residents of Golden Seasons want but can't have: their youth.  

Reid is a comfortable lead for this unusual tale. Playing Stock as chivalrous and reserved, but unafraid to sport a medically induced boner, Reid is a fun, earnest leading man. Reid’s humble charm is a fine fit for the subtle humour of Old Stock. Meghan Heffern also makes a strong impression with her supporting turn as a Dahlia, a classmate from the past whom Stock must confront in order to get his life moving again. Equally good are the actors playing Stock’s geriatric cohorts, especially Wells as Stock’s randy grandpa and Gerguson as the amiable Millie.

The clever script by Dane Clark finds an unusual coming of age tale, not to mention a sweet love story, in the unlikeliest of places. Best, though, is Stock's fine ear for understated comedy. It has a classic style of humour that's built on innuendo and quick repartee. The “old man speak” of the weathered gents at Golden Seasons is especially droll, as they talk in all sorts of horny double entendres, like “squeezing in a matinee” (re: whoopee), that should bring a laugh from viewers of all ages.

Who says that chivalry is dead? Grab your finest sweater vest and you have yourself a fine date before sundown!

Rating: ★★★½ (out of ★★★★★)

Old Stock opens in Toronto on May 31st at the Carlton.