Later Days – San Diego Film Festival

A clever premise and several very good vignettes are the strongest elements of this film. There are some very good characters, inhabited by talented actors. Nonetheless, the sum of the parts does not equal a satisfying whole.

Mike decides he’s going to surprise his wife Pam with a themed birthday party, a throwback to their high school days in the 1980s. She is rather less than happy, given that she is stressed about completing a work assignment. Because Mike is somewhat of a slacker dad, he has more time and fun dealing with the kids’ T-ball games and the like. Pam gamely goes along, fitting into her prom dress rather than her preferred route of a quiet dinner and a return home for some sexy time. 
There is an understandably motley crew of attendees at the party, several of whom remain unrecognizable to the other fellow alumni. Playing the somewhat helpless husband, David Walton is quite good in his role. He is clear eyed about what he’s trying to accomplish, with all the best intentions while  gamely trying to keep the evening together. Opposite him, Majandra Delfino plays the semi exasperated wife, trying to balance the pressures of work with acknowledging her husband’s efforts. 
The soundtrack gathers several sonic gems from the 80s (Tears for Fears, Culture Club, Depeche Mode, Run-D.M.C.), helping to anchor the theme of the party. 
Although never explicitly referenced, it seems that the title of the film echoes the TV hit “Happy Days” from the 1970s, which also looked back at a prior era, albeit through rose colored lenses.
Brad Riddell and Sanford Sternshein direct the proceedings of “Later Days” with a pretty good hand. Thy are nonetheless hampered by the script they wrote, that seems to run through its paces on auto pilot, only occasionally sparkling with several clever scenes.

Brad Auerbach has been a journalist and editor covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, SPIN, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.