The Movie Archive

The Magic Bubble

US Title: Unbecoming Age

Movie Poster of The Magic Bubble

Directed by: Alfredo Ringel, Deborah Caper Ringel
Screenwriter(s): Meredith Baer, Geof Prysirr
Starring: Diane Salinger, John Calvin, George Clooney, Wallace Shawn, Colleen Camp, Shera Danese, Nicholas Guest
Genre: Comedy
Country: USA
Year released: 1992
Running time: 1h 33m
Rating: 6 out of 10

Housewife Julia (Salinger) realises at her 40th birthday party that she hates her life, hates her friends and feels utterly trapped. While clearing up after the party, she finds a present she hasn’t noticed before. It contains a little bottle of cheap bubble mix which is capable of blowing the most complex bubble shapes (including the smoke-filled kind). Bathed in moonlight, bubble mix in hand, Julia wishes that she wasn’t any particular age.

It’s a standard wish-fulfillment moment, so you can probably guess what happens next. Julia rediscovers her fun side, much to her children’s delight and her husband’s disgust. Charles (Calvin) feels that her behaviour and dress are unbecoming for a woman her age, which is—of course—Julia’s whole point. She doesn’t want to act her age ever again. She does try to change for him, but he’s no longer sure that he wants his marriage to continue. And he’s not even aware that she’s being romanced by Mac (Clooney), a much younger man she met at the supermarket.

There’s nothing really new about The Magic Bubble. It’s not the first film to say that we all need to be ourselves and stop taking life so seriously. We’ve seen enough movies to know that the husband, Charles, will come to his senses and appreciate that he’s never had it so good. No, in real life, no-one would mistake Salinger for someone too young to buy beer. George Clooney’s Mac is too perfect to exist outside the movies: elegant yet casual, classic sports car, looks like he makes a good living but still has a conscience. He even appreciates women for their souls, not their looks.

But, then, it’s a sweet natured, unpretentious little movie and not Scorsese. All the fantasy elements work well enough without really trying your credulity. There’s some added humour via a neat cameo by Wallace Shawn as the psychiatrist that Julia reluctantly visits and eventually wins over. It’s a slight tale, but enjoyable enough in a weekday afternoon with a warm cup of tea/coffee/whatever sort of a way. I'm assuming that the Ringels, who directed and produced, rounded up all their friends because even the minor roles are rounded out with familiar faces like Nicholas Guest, Dayle Haddon, Colleen Camp and Shera Danese (Mrs Peter Falk).

I’m probably over-rating it for the inclusion of Clooney, but this is a film you'll either like or completely hate, so if the premise doesn’t sound like your particular brand of vodka, then avoid.