Queen Bees showcases elder actors

Queen Bees showcases elder actors
Jane Curtin, Loretta Devine and Ann-Margret are the Queen Bees in a new movie that features aging stars.

What happens when beloved actors, who once delighted us with memorable roles, get too gray to draw a younger audience? Aging happens, and script writers can only fill so many quirky/ wise/cantankerous grand­parent roles.

But every so often we get a film starring a group of elder treasures. Cocoon (1985), Joy Luck Club (1993), The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011), and Red (2010) come to mind.

Queen Bees seeks a place as this year’s old-actors movie. Ellen Burstyn (88), Loretta Devine (71), Jane Curtin (73), and Ann-Margret (80) are the queens here, and watching them relish the chance for the spotlight is wonderful.

It takes 10 minutes to set up the premise. Helen the widow (Burstyn), estranged from her daughter, lives alone in the home she shared with her husband. A fire damages the house and she must ‘temporarily’ move into an elder care facility. There she reluctantly connects with other old people and regains her desire for life.

Knocking on doors

James Caan tries to charm Ellen Burstyn’s character in Queen Bees.

Unfortunately, each character gets only one emotion to play. The grandson is earnest, the daughter is bitter. Jane Curtin is mean and Loretta Devine is brutally honest. We know these actors have range, but they don’t get much to work with. And the director can’t seem to start a scene that doesn’t involve someone knocking on the door and entering stage left.

An 81-year-old James Caan stands out as Helen’s charming and persistent love interest. Loretta Devine steals all her scenes with the most genuinely funny lines. Ann-Margret is radiant during the later scenes where she’s vulnerable, but cringey while hamming it up as the flirty sexpot.

Queen Bees never rises beyond the level of a discarded Golden Girls script. The one plot twist only sneaks up on us because the rest is so predictable.

But if you love these stars, sit back, relax, ignore the meager story, and just bask in the simple sweetness of seeing them have fun onscreen. It’s like visiting your aging relatives. You’ve heard their stories before, but it still feels good to connect with them. C+

Queen Bees is available for streaming on Amazon Prime and opened in local theaters June 11, 2021. Watch the trailer here.

Pete Cruz is a free-lance writer and graphic designer for The Pioneer. Send your comments to Editor@PioneerPublishers.com