Films on Retirement

The Retirement Gamble

Documentary Frontline 2013 April 23. The 401(k) was never designed with the middle class in mind, and may now be leaving a generation of Baby Boomers without enough to avoid poverty. Retirement is big business in America, but is the system costing workers and retirees more than what they’re getting in return? Most Americans are unaware of the fees they are paying for their 401(k)’s, but over a lifetime, such charges can cost an ordinary American more than $109,000. Most financial planners would say you need about $1 million to ensure a decent retirement, but “absolutely almost no one is there right now.  Link to View This FRONTLINE Story for Free (Listed by Date 2013 April 23):

Can You Afford to Retire?

Documentary Frontline 2006. The acclaimed PBS public affairs series investigates the looming financial catastrophe facing the baby boom generation — a group blessed with a long life expectancy but bedeviled by shrinking incomes. The erosion of traditional pillars of retirement income — Social Security, lifetime pensions and 401(k) plans — has many boomers working well into their retirement years, a trend that could eventually threaten the whole economy. See Full Review

Retirement Revolution
The New Reality!

Documentary 2009 TV-PG 90 minutes. Hosted by Paula Zahn, this helpful PBS special addresses the financial issues facing millions of older Americans following the economic crash of 2008, exploring ways to survive on less money and to increase income. Zahn talks to experts and those who’ve been affected by the crisis, offering advice on handling money, dealing with health issues and Medicare, considering a second career and much more.

Say Goodbye To Granddad’s Retirement!

Documentary 2008 NR. Financial planner Tony Walker’s documentary paints a sobering picture of the modern economy, contrasting the pensions and retirement plans of decades past with the uncertain future that likely awaits people entering the workforce today. The film explains why few people now spend their entire careers at one company, how this has shifted the burden of funding retirement from employers to employees and what young people can do to plan for the future.

Inequality for All

Documentary 2013 PG 1hr 30m. Former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich makes a compelling case about the serious crisis the U.S. faces due to the widening economic gap. This film is entertaining, but it also educates. This is one of the best documentaries I have seen in years.

The Company Men

Drama 2010 R 1hr 44m.  This indie drama stars Tommy Lee Jones, Kevin Costner, and Ben Affleck as a successful businessman who comes face-to-face with America’s downsizing epidemic when he loses his job and is forced to take a construction gig. What happens when the American dream turns into a nightmare? What do you tell your wife, kids, friends, former colleagues when you are collecting unemployment? Written, directed and produced by John Wells.

Living Old

Documentary Frontline 2006 NR 60 minutes. A compelling and insightful expedition into uncharted terrain, this episode of the penetrating PBS series delves into this issue of America’s increasing elderly population and the implications for the aged, their families and society. Facing the ramifications of medical advances that have made longer lives possible, the health-care system — already overtaxed — may be reaching a breaking point as the number of caregivers shrinks. With 35 million elderly people in America, “the old, old” — those over 85 — are now considered the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population. While medical advances have enabled an unprecedented number of Americans to live longer and healthier lives, this new longevity has also had unintended consequences. For millions of Americans, living longer also means serious chronic illness and a protracted physical decline that can require an immense amount of care, often for years and sometimes even decades. Yet just as the need for care is rising, the number of available caregivers is dwindling. With families more dispersed than ever and an overburdened healthcare system, many experts fear that we are on the threshold of a major crisis in care.

The Straight Story

Docudrama 1999 G 111 minutes. When his brother, Lyle (Harry Dean Stanton), falls ill, Iowa farmer Alvin Straight (Oscar nominee Richard Farnsworth) pledges to go to Lyle’s side — despite being unable to drive — armed with a riding lawnmower for transportation, a tent and unshakable determination. Leaving his mentally challenged daughter (Sissy Spacek) at home, Alvin sets out to cover the 300 miles to his brother’s house in a weeks-long journey of healing and remembrance.

Retired at 35

Sitcom 2011 TV-PG 10 episodes. In this droll sitcom, successful New York City executive David Robbins decides to leave the rat race and join his mom and dad at their retirement home in Florida. However, he’s not prepared for the dramatic impact his move has on his parents. While visiting his parents, Alan (George Segal) and Elaine (Jessica Walter), in Florida, high-achieving young executive David Robbins (Johnathan McClain) decides to abandon the New York grind, move in and start enjoying his golden years early. In the opening season of this TV Land comedy, David’s announcement leads his parents to make an even bigger one, while pool-cleaning buddy Brandon (Josh McDermitt) reveals the working side of retired life.

Lost in America

Satire 1985 R 91 minutes. David (Albert Brooks) and Linda (Julie Hagerty) live a boring life. David has dutifully obeyed orders at an ad agency for eight years, while Linda has devoted seven years to a dead-end job. But after David gets fired, they impulsively embark on a painfully hilarious odyssey of discovery. As they travel across the United States their finances dwindle to a dangerous low… and when they park their RV in Las Vegas, all bets are definitely off!

On Golden Pond

Drama 1981 PG 109 minutes. Henry Fonda — in his final role — plays peevish retired professor Norman Thayer, who’s making his yearly excursion with his wife to their idyllic summerhouse. But a hostile teen left in their care short-circuits the couple’s tranquility.

About Schmidt

Drama 2002 R 125 minutes. When insurance actuary Warren Schmidt (Jack Nicholson) retires and his wife dies, he looks for life’s meaning on a road trip to his daughter’s (Hope Davis) upcoming wedding to a waterbed salesman (Dermot Mulroney). But Schmidt can’t seem to get anything right. En route to the wedding, he shares his life through letters with a Tanzanian boy he’s sponsoring for 73 cents a day — and soon, Schmidt discovers renewed purpose.

Harry and Tonto

Drama 1974 R 115 minutes. Ripping a page from John Steinbeck’s novel Travels with Charley, this bittersweet comedy follows an old codger named Harry as he takes a cross-country trip with his cat, Tonto, as a companion. The film earned Carney a Best Actor Academy Award.


Sci-Fi 1985 PG-13 120 minutes. A group of shut-ins at a rest home get a new lease on life when they’re offered the gift of eternal youth by visiting aliens led by Brian Dennehy. Steve Guttenberg plays a charter boat captain who helps Dennehy and Don Ameche (who won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar) marshal their fellow seniors (Hume Cronyn, Wilford Brimley, Jack Gilford, Jessica Tandy and Maureen Stapleton) into making the choice between perennial youth or old age.

Cocoon: The Return

Sci-Fi 1988 PG 116 minutes. In this sequel to the huge hit Cocoon, the seniors who exited Earth in exchange for eternal youth return to terra firma to visit with the loved ones they left behind. Meanwhile, their alien hosts plot the rescue of a cocoon retrieved from the ocean floor by a troublesome oceanographer (Courteney Cox). Don Ameche reprises his Oscar-winning role along with Wilford Brimley, Hume Cronyn, Gwen Verdon, Maureen Stapleton and Jessica Tandy.

The Salt of Life
(Gianni e le Donne)

Comedy 2011 NR 1hr 29m.  Rather than living the good life he’d imagined, newly retired Gianni spends his days running errands for those around him. Bemoaning his fate, he decides to take a mistress — a task that proves easier said than done in this wistful comedy.

Going in Style

Comedy 1979 PG. Out of sheer boredom, septuagenarian roommates Joe (George Burns), Al (Art Carney) and Willie (Lee Strasberg) plan a daring bank heist. But after they pull off the caper, problems begin to crop up — beginning with the death of one of the three old codgers. Hard choices and some even tougher introspection follow as the remaining two head to Las Vegas for a wild fling in this classic comedy directed by Martin Brest.


Drama 1992 R 127 minutes. Retired gunslinger William Munny reluctantly takes one last job — and even more reluctantly accepts a boastful young man as a partner. Together, they learn how easily complicated truths are distorted into simplistic myths about the Old West.

High Noon

Drama 1952 NR 85 minutes. Retiring Marshal Will Kane insists on defending his town from a gang of hooligans who are due on the noon train — but he faces the task alone as the cowardly townspeople flee like rats from a sinking ship. Gary Cooper is trying to retire in this classic western. But the bad guys, and his conscience, won’t let him. Mr. Cooper is Will Kane, a small-town marshal whose new wife is played by Grace Kelly. It’s his last day on the job, but when he learns that a man he sent to prison years earlier is returning on the noon train to seek revenge, he stays and fights. Mr. Cooper got the Oscar for best actor, but the film itself lost the best-picture contest to Cecil B. DeMille’s “The Greatest Show on Earth.”

Retire Smart, Retire Happy

Lecture 2007 NR 54 minutes. Author and counseling psychologist Nancy K. Schlossberg, a specialist in midlife, aging, transitions and coping, tells you everything you need to know about retirement with this informative program. Schlossberg looks at typical issues the new retiree may face — including loss of purpose, questioning one’s identity and shifts in intimate relationships — and provides helpful advice for dealing with these concerns.

My Retirement Dreams

Documentary Frontline 1998. I began my journey as a voyeur in the landscape of old age, but when it was over I was an insider,’ says Frontline producer Marian Marzynski. Marzynski, who calls himself somewhere between a boomer and a geezer,’ takes viewers on a personal and poignant journey into America’s way of growing old. As the baby boom generation begins to anticipate age, Marzynski settles into the life of Miami Beach’s condo complexes, investigating the retirees’ struggle to leave behind their old lives and to find new meaning and new joy in life’s final chapter.

Who Pays for Mom and Dad?

Documentary Frontline 1991. Frontline examines the crisis facing middle-class Americans seeking long-term nursing home care for elderly parents. The report focuses on the tremendous financial difficulties faced by families who must decide what’s best for their loved ones.

What about Mom and Dad?

Documentary Frontline 1985. Americans over the age of 75 are the fastest growing segment of the nation’s population. Many have spent all their lives planning carefully for retirement. But they find their savings destroyed by nursing home care and federal programs for medical costs covering much less than they ever thought. When they turn to their families for help, difficult emotional and financial choices must be made.

Waging a Living

Documentary 2004 NR 85 minutes. This thought-provoking documentary tests the mantra “get a job” to see whether low-wage jobholders — otherwise known as the “working poor” — can pull themselves and their families out of poverty. Filmed in California, New York and New Jersey over a three-year period, the film tracks the ups and downs of four ethnically diverse Americans living below the poverty line as they face a persistent struggle to make ends meet. See Full Review

See also: The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio.


Films on Aging


Custom Search


Must-See Movies—For What You Need to Know