With the passing of Paul Newman, I was struggling with deciding what movie to watch today. A Newman classic, maybe? That’d be easy — I have a few with me, like the Hustler.
I ultimately decided on Bubba Ho-tep. And I decided on it for a few reasons.
1. It’s a movie about growing old. In Bubba Ho-tep, our hero is Bruce Campbell as an elderly Elvis Presley, living in a retirement home and working with a guy claiming to be JFK (played excellently by Ossie Davis), as they fight an ancient Egyptian mummy. Really. But it Elvis is dealing with the fact that he’s old and has little left in his life, really, until this mummy enters the equation. The movie also speaks volumes, I think, on the American emphasis on youth, something Newman transpired. Would Paris Hilton be interesting if she acted the same but was 54 years old? No. Not in the least bit.
2. There’s an underlying theme in the movie about the value of the old. Their souls, the movie suggests, are smaller and worth less, because they have less to live for. I doubt anyone would say that about Newman.
3. Elvis spends a lot of time in the movie thinking about what was and what could have been. I doubt Newman did that. As life changed and moved on, he expanded his interests and activities and found new things to do. NASCAR and Newman’s Own are the two biggest ones, I suspect. Not bad for an old man, much better than sitting around the dwelling on what had been or what could have been. Will Tom Cruise learn this lesson? I dunno.
Bubba Ho-tep is a brilliant movie. It really is. It’s worth owning, and worth watching at least once a year. It speaks volumes on the issue of aging.