Golden Oldie Guidance
Sometimes when watching a movie I wonder what movie would make an ideal double bill for it, the choice when watching "Generation Gap" was an easy one, it would be "On Golden Pond". The reason is that at their heart they are similar movies, both featuring a friendship which forms between an older man who teaches a young boy how to become a man. The difference with "Generation Gap" it is the young boy's Granddad who over the space of the summer gets through his thick skull and watches him blossom from being a brawler to a responsible and respectful young man. Unfortunately whilst the heart of "Generation Gap" is good it is a flawed movie even by TV standards with some cheesy scenes and an ending which feels like the writer's didn't know how to end it.
Veronica Statlan (Catherine Mary Stewart) has run out of options when it comes to her son Dylan (Alex Black - 13 Going on 30) as the latest fight has lead him to be expelled. Desperate she calls her dad Bart Cahill (Edward Asner - The Christmas Card) in Greensville and asks if he wouldn't mind having Dylan for the summer in the hope that some male figures may help sort him out. Hating every minute of being in the backwater town of Greensville Dylan is kept busy with one job after another but slowly he grows to like it. He meets the attractive Jenny (Danielle Savre), bonds with his granddad and makes friends with his war buddies at the VFW, slowly growing into a responsible adult, just in time to face a new challenge.
The chances are that if you are a fan of afternoon movies you will have stumbled across at least one movie probably more which have a similar storyline to "Generation Gap". The set up of a troubled kid being sent to live with a relative is a familiar one and so when Dylan's mum unable to cope with her angry son calls his Grandfather you know what is going to happen. You know that when Dylan arrives in Greensville he is going to hate it and want to leave but despite a few bumps will bond with his former military Grandfather, in fact become very close and eventually grow into a responsible young man. There are really no surprises other than an abruptness to the way the movie ends and as I already mentioned it feels like the writer's didn't know how to end things and so didn't.
But whilst "Generation Gap" is ultimately predictable it has a certain charm about it. Bart Cahill as a former military man may be a bit of a walking cliche but the way he gets through to young Dylan by working him hard and treating him with respect is the sort of fun character that you wish was real, that relative who could take a troubled teen and straighten them out. And Burt's friends from the FVW are just as much fun, who have the spirit of human kindness when they welcome Dylan as one of their own. Basically this is the stuff of what you wish life was like where relatives would step up and help out when you need a child straightening out who is losing their way.
Now whilst this feel good family drama is full of wholesome charm it is not without its issues and one thing is that at times it is too corny even for a TV movie. It is a case that everything is too simple and it makes certain things such as Dylan walking away from a fight a little too unbelievable. And talking of Dylan, Alex Black for the most does a nice job, a little nervous which actually adds to the character but it all too often felt like he was searching for his words, unable to react to those around him which makes it a little awkward.
Fortunately there is plenty of charming natural performances going on and with a cast which alongside Edward Asner also features Ralph Waite, Rue McClanahan and Hal Williams this is a movie for those who like their old actors. In many ways whilst Alex Black should be the star it is Edward Asner who shines as he gets across everything about his character, the tired old military man, the man who can see potential but also sees the errors in his own ways.
What this all boils down to is that "Generation Gap" is not anything that new and basically works through the story of a troubled teen who through a summer with their grandpa straightens out. But it is charming, fun and has some nice performances especially from the older cast lead by Edward Asner.