‘Queen Bees,’ by Michael Lembeck, is a comedic and heartfelt film about the happenings at Pinewoods Grove Senior Community, which has developed dynamics similar to that of a high school. Helen Wilson (Ellen Burstyn) is an independent widow who is forced to shift to the center when her house burns down. There she encounters an elderly version of the Mean Girls, who gatekeep an exclusive club of cool seniors. However, Helen’s uninhibited nature soon scores her an invite to the group, and they quickly become fast friends.
As Helen warms up to the unexpectedly exciting life in the community, she draws the attention of a romantic admirer, Dan (James Caan). The 2021 film takes us on a humorous string of events with Helen and her increasingly adventurous retirement. We’ve curated a list of movies like ‘Queen Bees,’ which gracefully capture such explorations of camaraderie, romance, and the importance of companionship later in life.
8. Finding Your Feet (2017)
Directed by Richard Loncraine, ‘Finding Your Feet’ is a heartwarming comedy-drama centered around Sandra Abbott (Imelda Staunton), who, after discovering her husband’s infidelity, seeks refuge with her estranged free-spirited sister Bif. As Sandra navigates her newfound single life, she joins a dance class where she befriends a diverse group of individuals. She embraces the joys of dance, and unexpected friendships emerge alongside a tentative romance. The film beautifully explores themes of self-discovery, second chances, and the universal will to live uninhibitedly.
The film shares thematic similarities with ‘Queen Bees’ as both center around mature characters navigating major life transitions, finding unexpected companionship, and challenging societal expectations associated with aging. The narratives emphasize the importance of friendship, self-reinvention, and embracing new experiences in the later stages of life, creating heartwarming stories that resonate with universal themes of love, acceptance, and personal growth.
7. The Leisure Seeker (2017)
With Paolo Virzì at the helm, ‘The Leisure Seeker’ takes us on a poignant road trip with Ella (Helen Mirren) and John Spencer (Donald Sutherland), an elderly couple facing the challenges of old age and health ailments. Despite their children’s concerns, the couple embarks on a nostalgic journey in their vintage RV, The Leisure Seeker, retracing the steps of their past. The couple traverses the United States, revisiting significant landmarks and reliving cherished memories.
Their journey is a mix of laughter, love, and bittersweet moments as they confront the realities of aging and the impact of John’s memory loss on their relationship. Both ‘Queen Bees’ and ‘The Leisure Seeker’ explore themes of aging, companionship, and the resilience of the human spirit. They delve into the challenges and joys of later life, portraying characters who rebel against societal expectations and seek fulfillment on their own terms.
6. I’ll See You in My Dreams (2015)
Under the direction of Brett Haley, ‘I’ll See You in My Dreams’ tells a heartfelt tale that revolves around Carol Petersen (Blythe Danner), a widow facing the challenges of aging and solitude. For the first time in her life, she feels unsure of herself, feeling like she has lost everything she has ever worked towards. However, she unexpectedly begins to develop a friendship with a pool cleaner, and a charged romance with a charismatic senior, Bill (Sam Elliott).
As Carol breaks past her self-imposed norms, her experiences lead to personal growth, confronting her fears and finding comfort in companionship. If you liked the mature pondering and romantic angle in ‘Queen Bees,’ ‘I’ll See You in My Dreams’ will grip you with its profound exploration of the later stages of life, navigating themes of companionship, self-discovery, and the pursuit of happiness.
5. 5 Flights Up (2014)
Directed by Richard Loncraine, ‘5 Flights Up’ is a heartwarming story following the lives of Alex Carver (Morgan Freeman) and his wife Ruth (Diane Keaton), a long-married couple facing the decision to sell their Brooklyn apartment as it lacks elevator access. In attempting to make the sale, they experience the humorous eccentricities of New York City’s real estate market, while contemplating the significance of their home’s history and the memories it holds.
As the elderly couple deals with the logistical and emotional aspects of a potential move, they also face the changing dynamics of their neighborhood and the impact of societal shifts on their lives. If ‘Queen Bees’ puts a smile on your face with its heartwarming romantic moments, ‘5 Flights Up’ will unfold a tearful and profound experience of companionship as its couple carries a lifetime of memories together. The films explore aging, meaningful relationships, and the importance of embracing change while combining plenty of humor and heart.
4. Book Club: The Next Chapter (2023)
A sequel to the ‘Book Club,’ ‘Book Club: The Next Chapter’ follows a group of four women in their 70s going to Italy for a bachelorette party. Vivian declares her engagement, and her three best friends make plans to travel to Italy to celebrate the end of her single life. The quartet engages with local eccentricities, happens upon old friends, and ignites romances. Directed by Bill Holderman, the romantic comedy will have you reminisce about the Queen Bees as the hilarious elderly friends defy preconceived notions of age and partake in wild adventures in exotic settings.
3. Our Souls at Night (2017)
Helmed by director Ritesh Batra, ‘Our Souls at Night’ is a poignant film that follows Addie Moore (Jane Fonda) and Louis Waters (Robert Redford), two widowed neighbors in a small Colorado town. Facing unbearable loneliness, Addie walks up to Louis’s door and proposes a unique arrangement: spending nights together without any expectations of a romantic relationship.
Their connection deepens as they share stories, create new experiences and find solace in their later years. For those who liked ‘Queen Bees’ for its foray into the simplistic beauty of deep later-life bonds, ‘Our Souls at Night’ will present a poignant tale about the importance of genuine connections, self-discovery, and the pursuit of happiness in the face of societal norms.
2. It’s Complicated (2009)
A Nancy Meyers directorial, ‘It’s Complicated’ is a delightful romantic comedy that explores infidelity, love, and second chances at later stages in life. The film centers on Jane Adler (Meryl Streep), a successful bakery owner and divorced mother of three, who finds herself in a romantic triangle with her cheating ex-husband Jake (Alec Baldwin) and architect Adam (Steve Martin). As Jane and Jake attend their son’s graduation, it leads to a night of unexpected passion.
Simultaneously, Jane begins to develop a connection with Adam, adding layers of complications to her already complex romantic life. The film humorously navigates the challenges of their relationships, and the dynamics of families as they find themselves involved in the entire affair. Much like Helen from ‘Queen Bees,’ Jane has a group of elderly friends which is a cause for a number of comedic scenes in the film. Both stories delve into the challenges of later-life romance, and the discovery of unexpected companionship.
1. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011)
With John Madden in the director’s chair, ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ follows a group of British retirees seeking a fresh start in a seemingly luxurious but dilapidated hotel in Jaipur, India. Each character, played by a stellar ensemble cast, has their own reasons for embarking on this adventure. The retirees navigate the challenges of adapting to a new culture, forming unexpected connections, and rediscovering purpose in their golden years. The hotel, managed by the enthusiastic but inexperienced Sonny (Dev Patel), becomes a backdrop for the veterans’ individual journeys of self-discovery and personal growth.
Much like in ‘Queen Bees,’ the film’s protagonists are initially reluctant at the sight of their seniors’ home but soon find themselves developing deep friendships with its members and enjoying its vibrant atmosphere. Both films are highlighted by their contrasts between the highs of comedy and somber contemplative moments, delivering narratives resonating with universal themes of love, camaraderie, and adventure.
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