Assisted living facilities, retirement communities and nursing homes have served as the backdrop for a wide range of movies in practically every genre. We compiled a list of 15 such films. There are heart-warming dramas, suspense-filled thrillers, gross-out comedies, and even a sci-fi flick. But despite these films’ differences, it’s intriguing to note that a recurring theme present in many of them: the young hero (or anti-hero) whose life is changed for the better after meeting a wise elderly free-spirit.
Some of these films perpetuate stereotypes about seniors in a humorous, kind-hearted way, but others avoid stereotyping by portraying elderly characters to whom anyone can relate, as well as by highlighting inter-generational friendships between characters.
Films Set at Assisted Living Facilities, Retirement Communities and Care Homes
In no particular order…
- Away from Her (2006) – About a man who is facing the trauma of having to place his wife at an Alzheimer’s care facility, Away From Her received widespread recognition including two Oscars nominations.
- Play the Game (2009) - In Andy Griffith’s final role he plays a senior community resident who learns dating tricks from his grandson.
- The Savages (2007) – Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney play siblings in a film about a pair of sibling who face needing to find care for a father with Alzheimer’s. The Savages was nominated for two Oscars and numerous other awards.
- In Her Shoes (2005) – Shirley MacLaine plays an assisted living resident in a film starring Cameron Diaz.
- Paradise Grove (2003) – A dark comedy set in a Jewish oriented rest home in North London.
- Fried Green Tomatoes (1991) – A disillusioned housewife befriends a fascinating nursing home resident. The film was nominated for two Oscars.
- The Gin Game (2003) – Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore star as retirement community residents who “come to terms over a game of cards.”
- Bubba Ho-tep (2003) – A bizarro comedy horror film in which Elvis Presley and JFK are nursing home residents – still alive after all, of course – who join forces to fight an ancient mummy. Unsurprisingly, this film was not nominated for any Oscars, but it received good reviews and a three star rating (out of four) from the late Roger Ebert who wrote that it works as movie because it has the “damnedest ingratiating way of making us sit there and grin at its harebrained audacity, laugh at its outhouse humor, and be somewhat moved (not deeply, but somewhat) at the poignancy of these two old men and their situation. “
- Assisted Living (2003) – A comedy showing the day in the life of a janitor at an assisted living community who “spends his days smoking pot and interacting with the residents for his own entertainment”. The indie film received some acclaim upon its release, including Grand Jury Prize at the Slamdance Film Festival.
- Assisted Fishing (2012) – Senior residents of a less than adequate nursing home with an evil administrator help a lovable loser win a fishing tournament. The movie’s sad claim to fame is that it features “the most over-the-top fart scene in cinematic history”.
- Black Noise (2013) – This thriller is about an an elderly man who wakes up to find that his wife is gone. As he tries to figure out what is happening his daughter places him in an assisted living facility.
- Is Anybody There? (2008) – The story of a boy growing up in a retirement community that his parents run in a seaside resort-town in England.
- Cocoon (1985) – Ron Howard directed this sci-fi film about three retirement home residents who are rejuvenated alien beings. Cocoon received two Oscars award.
- Cortex (2008) - A retired detective with Alzheimer’s is a resident at a memory care home where the death of several residents requires him to rekindle his investigatory skills.
- The Wendell Baker Story (2005) – Luke Wilson stars in this comedy about an ex-con who is employed at a retirement community.
Let us know if you know of other movies to add to this list. We welcome your comments below.