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. However, the sum of the parts does not amount to a satisfactory whole.
Mike decides he’s going to surprise his wife Pam with a themed birthday party, a throwback to their high school years in the 1980s. She’s rather unhappy, given that she’s stressed out about finishing a job. Because Mike is somewhat of a lazy dad, he has more time and fun dealing with kids’ T-ball games and the like. Pam bravely goes, fitting into her ball gown rather than her favorite route of a leisurely dinner and coming home for some sexy time.
There is naturally a motley team of participants in the party, many of whom remain unrecognizable to the other former students. Playing the somewhat helpless husband, David Walton is quite good at his role. He has clear eyes on what he’s trying to accomplish, with all the best of intentions while trying to keep the evening together. Facing him, Majandra Delfino plays the half-exasperated wife, trying to balance the pressure of work with recognition for her husband’s efforts.
The soundtrack brings together several sound gems from the 80s (Tears for Fears, Culture Club, Depeche Mode, Run-DMC), helping to anchor the theme of the party.
Although it was never explicitly referenced, it appears the film’s title echoes the 1970s TV hit “Happy Days”, which also reverted to an earlier era, albeit through pink colored lenses. .
Brad Riddell and Sanford Sternshein lead the proceedings of “Later Days” with a fairly good hand. They are nonetheless embarrassed by the script they wrote, which appears to work autopilot-proof, only occasionally flickering with several clever scenes.
Brad Auerbach has covered the media, entertainment, travel and tech scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, SPIN, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career he won a New York State College Journalism Award.