What a year for William Shatner: the oldest person in space (currently delayed by wind – unsurprising at his age), a new album (“elliptical philosophical explorations about the very nature of existence and death.“) and a movie, in which the 90-year-old plays a 70-year-old who leches on 20-year-olds.
Senior Moment is not as creepy or embarrassing as it sounds; it is so much worse, a film to be watched through arthritic fingers or better still, shot into space along with Bill and Jeff Bezos. Shatner plays OAP (old age petrolhead) Victor Martin, a character spawned in the horrible wreckage of a collision between Jack Nicholson in As Good as It Gets and Robert De Niro in Dirty Grandpa. With none of the charm.
When he isn’t partying with young women (who can’t get enough of the Shats) or engaging in some casual racism, the retired pilot likes nothing more than racing his Porsche around Palm Springs with his pal (Christopher Lloyd, though his costume suggests he doesn’t want you to know it). After one too many bouts of reckless driving, Victor’s licence is revoked and the roads become 80% safer overnight.
We are then expected to root for the dangerous driver as he attempts to recover his licence or steal his car from the pound, whichever proves least funny. Fortunately for the pedestrians of Palm Springs, the film has its own senior moment and forgets about the driving licence storyline when Victor falls in love with café owner Caroline (Jean Smart, much more age appropriate at just 20 years younger than Shatner).
For some reason Caroline is campaigning to save the tortoise, the longest-living animals she had encountered prior to meeting Victor. Despite their differences (“I like fast cars, you like tortoises.”) the reformed speed freak decides he no longer needs a flashy car because he has a sturdy woman. This sexism is just one example of the movie’s offensiveness, including a Mexican person being a criminal, another character emasculated for his bisexuality and a black man who doesn’t speak.
To Shatner’s credit, you do have to keep reminding yourself that he is 90 – and though not exactly Christopher Plummer in All the Money in the World, he gives a credible performance as a very confused old man. But scenes where he is getting stoned, making out or jumping into a swimming pool are excruciating, albeit less so than his interview with Stephen Hawking. At least if space doesn’t work out for him, the Montreal-born starship captain could always try Canada’s Worst Driver.