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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The AARP Loves Jack Ryan: Geriatric Recruit

Posted by Erik Henriksen on Wed, Jan 22, 2014 at 11:29 AM


A pal and I saw Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit last Saturday afternoon, and as soon as we entered the auditorium, we drove down the median age of the audience by about 30 years. The people excited to see Jack Ryan return to the big screen, it turned out, were pretty much all in their 50s and 60s, and pretty much all men, and pretty much all white. Basically, they're the people you'd imagine read Tom Clancy books, not the people you'd imagine play Tom Clancy videogames.

Jack Ryan did not set the box office on fire—it did kind of terribly—but it did get what I guess could technically be called a consolation prize. The film is the first recipient of what's probably the least-coveted award in all of youth-obsessed Hollywood: The AARP's "Movies for Grownups" Seal! The Dissolve got the press release, which was presumably typed on a Lettera 32 Olivetti and delivered via carrier pigeon. It explains that Jack Ryan was

…selected by AARP’s Movies For Grownups editorial team, which dedicates hundreds of hours each year to screening eligible blockbusters and independent films, identifying movies with a distinct relevance to the 50+ audience.

I'm guessing the filmmakers of Jack Ryan are less than stoked about this, given that the whole, unsuccessful plan with the movie was to reboot the series for a younger audience—hence casting Chris Pine to play a role previously given to Harrison Ford, Alec Baldwin, and Ben Affleck. But what really bewilders me is that the AARP chose Jack Ryan at all. I mean... I guess old people would like it? But if you're choosing films that have a "distinct relevance to the 50+ audience," why not go with All Is Lost, or August: Osage County, or Nebraska, or Philomena, or any of the other recent films that acknowledge people over the age of 35 can be interesting and do interesting things? Because if they're trying to show people—and Hollywood—that people in the AARP can like things that younger people like too, Jack Ryan probably isn't the best movie to do that with.


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