Norman (Henry Fonda) and Ethel Thayer (Katharine Hepburn) have had a summer cottage on Golden Pond since early in their marriage. This summer their daughter Chelsea, (Jane Fonda) whom they haven't seen for years, feels she must be there for her father's 80th birthday. She and her fiance leave for Europe, leaving Billy with Ethel and Norman. What begins as a stubborn battle of wills between Norman and Billy slowly turns into a relationship that Chelsea had always longed to share with her Father. On Golden Pond is a beautiful, touching and heart-warming drama. A piece of cinema history.
Films of this type rely on good direction, good character development and dialogue and excellent acting. Unfortunately Golden Pond fails on all these counts, despite the 'big name' cast. There was very little development of the minimal story, and the filming was restricted to a cottage and lake. The actors struggled to cope with the stereotyped and contradictory characters they had to play, resulting in 'wooden' acting that failed to engage or convince. The director used several incidents (accident, heart-attack, family conflict/restoration) to try to engage the viewer. I am usually very susceptible to any sort of emotion, but these were mostly so unconvincing that they were almost amusing.
Occasional beatiful shots of the lake, and reasonable acting by young Billy were not enough to make this worth watching. Norman Thayer's central character proved annoyingly unbelievable. At 80, he inconsistently oscillated between being totally confused and 'past it' and engaging in devastatingly erudite and witty repartee. Either extreme might be believable, but the combination was not. I much preferred other films of a similar genre - for example, Homecoming or Paradise.