Reel Dad: 'Senior Moment' misses the mark with tired cliches

"Senior Moment" stars William Shatner and Jean Smart

Goff Productions / Contributed photo

You could have a few reasons to watch “Senior Moment,” a new comedy about senior citizens starring William Shatner and Jean Smart.

Perhaps you miss Shatner smoking cigars and chatting with James Spader on a balcony in “Boston Legal.” Or you long for the days of watching Smart tangle with her colleagues in “Designing Women.” Maybe you wish you could travel to the sights and scenery of Palm Springs. Or you can’t find anything else to watch on the home screen.

No matter why you want to watch a movie, keep looking. There’s little to recommend about this tedious (and, at times, tasteless) take on an improbable romance between two much-too-familiar souls.

As the opening credits end, we quickly figure out Shatner’s character. Apparently, he used to be a jet pilot, a former occupation that gives him a lot of confidence when dealing with cars and women. In a series of sequences that feel out of place with today’s sensibilities, and filled with inappropriate stereotypes, Shatner loses his driver’s license and must take a city bus to get around town. Of course, one day, on the bus, he sits next to Smart, the owner of a trendy café, he later admits he “has walked by dozens of times over the years.” As the two get to know each other, and we itch to predict the plot, the would-be couple faces a series of misunderstandings that could undo any couple in a Hallmark movie. And we’re left to wonder how they will ever tie up all the loose ends before this 92-minute film finally comes to an end.

Few moments on screen ring true. Joining Shatner in his pursuits are other senior citizens who bring back our memories of the worst sit-com buddies. Meanwhile, Smart’s friendships with a lady in the café and a dashing artist prompt us, after years of watching romantic comedies, to watch out for clues early in the story that may suggest the seeds for a happy conclusion. No surprise, “Senior Moment” celebrates just about every romantic film cliché in its effort to make the story, and its characters, feel comfortable.

Sadly, Shatner looks quite uncomfortable through most of the film while the lovely Smart, always a reliable presence on screen, brings a quiet authenticity to a role that demands little of her significant talent. How I wish someone would write her a role that could showcase all she can do. Few can make so much from so little. Smart almost makes us care what happens in this silly film.

Summary: Senior Moment

Content: Low. This would-be exploration of senior citizens discovering romance never makes us care about the people it features.

Entertainment: Low. Because the characters are poorly developed, and the filmmakers rely on inappropriate stereotypes, the movie never has a chance.

Message: Low. There's a lot to say about how we connect as we age, but this film misses every opportunity.

Relevance: Low. If you are looking for an authentic take on a romance between seniors, check out "Our Souls at Night" - with Jane Fonda and Robert Redford - on Netflix.

Opportunity for Dialogue: Low. While you may want to talk during the film, the movie itself won't prompt much meaningful conversation.

Of course, Palm Springs looks lovely and as in many romantic comedies, Shatner and Smart live in houses we would love to visit. But once inside those dwellings, the film gives them so little to authentically share that the journey is rather empty. “Senior Moment” could have given us a lot to consider about the possibilities we may encounter later in life. But it’s so predictable that we figure out the options long before the people on screen.

“Senior Moment” runs 1 hour and 32 minutes. The film is not rated but does contain scenes that are inappropriate for children.