Mill Creek Entertainment is known for releasing a lot of lesser-known (and sometimes completely forgotten) films as Double Feature Blu-rays. Age of Consent and Cactus Flower aren’t household names by any stretch of the imagination but they are a bit more well-known than the usual fare Mill Creek puts out in these sorts of releases. Cactus Flower was one of the top ten highest grossing films of 1969 and even won an Oscar and Golden Globe for best supporting actress. Meanwhile, Age of Consent is somewhat notable for a completely different reason. It is noteworthy as being Helen Mirren’s first role in a major film and for being censored in the U.S. and U.K. due to its substantial nudity. While both films in this collection are notable, unfortunately I don’t think either is essential viewing. Both movies are watchable but not really what I would call recommended viewing for today’s audiences.
Cactus Flower was the reason I requested this release for review from Mill Creek. With it holding a solid 7.2 rating on IMDB and being an award-winning film, I was hoping it would be an older romantic comedy that was still worth a watch. Unfortunately, despite some pretty great performances (especially from the younger members of the cast), this type of story has been played out seemingly a million times and there isn’t quite as much humor as I was hoping for.
Cactus Flower is about a middle-aged dentist named Julian (Walter Matthau) who has a 21-year-old “mistress” by the name of Toni (Goldie Hawn). Mistress is in quotes because in order to avoid commitment, when he first started seeing Toni he lied to her and told her that he was married with three children (neither of which is true). After Toni attempts to kill herself in grief, Julian realizes that he needs to fix this lie and has his nurse (played by Ingrid Bergman) pose as his “wife,” who he is going through a “break up” with. Of course like all of these comedies, Julian’s attempts to lie his way out of this situation get more and more ridiculous and convoluted.
With a cast of Walter Matthau, Ingrid Bergman, Goldie Hawn, and Rick Lenz (as Toni’s neighbor who clearly has a thing for her), it’s not surprising at all that the acting performances are the best thing about this film. However, I would actually say the stars of this film are Hawn (even though this was her breakthrough role) and Lenz. Matthau and Bergman’s characters are a bit dull. Their performances are great as usual but Hawn and Lenz get almost all of the funniest moments. Hawn was rewarded with an Oscar and Golden Globe for her performance. Even though she is technically a “homewrecker” in this film, she is adorable and often hilarious in Cactus Flower. Rick Lenz is almost as funny as Hawn.
Even with some great performances by just about every actor in this film, I still found myself bored while watching Cactus Flower. I would say this is due to two reasons. The biggest reason is that Matthau and Bergman’s characters just aren’t funny enough. When Hawn and Lenz are on the screen, I was laughing quite a bit. When they aren’t, I was bored out of my mind. The film does get funnier in the second half but I would say this is a mediocre comedy that wastes some great performances. The other reason I don’t think Cactus Flower is very important to watch is that stories similar to this are super common. I’m sure there has been at least twenty films with this exact same concept made by now, and some of them are much more modern than this one. For someone almost twenty years younger than this film, I would likely prefer the more modern versions. Cactus Flower might have been a decent film in its time but it just isn’t worth watching for today’s audience.
Age of Consent
Cactus Flower was definitely the reason I wanted to take a look at this Double Feature set but I also gave Age of Consent a watch as well (even though the story didn’t really interest me). To be honest, I don’t really have much to write about this film. I thought it was a watchable though dull film that is only really notable due to it being Helen Mirren’s breakthrough vehicle (and some people might be excited by the fact that she is naked in several scenes).
Age of Consent is about a painter who is in a bit of a rut and not really liking his recent work. He decides to recharge his batteries by traveling to a small Australian island. There, he meets a thieving young woman (Mirren) who wants to get away from the island (and her evil “Ma”) and become a hairdresser in Brisbane. To help her raise the funds required to leave, the painter hires her as a model and she eventually becomes his new muse.
While this film was controversial in its day due to the large amount of skin Mirren shows off, it certainly isn’t exciting in any way, shape, or form. It’s a little sad that the two best parts of the film are a talented dog named Godfrey and one of the most stereotypically evil old lady characters I have ever seen. “Ma” is pretty much an evil Disney stepmother come to life (she even has the patented witch cackle down pat). She’s definitely a caricature and some of the scenes she’s in aren’t even supposed to be funny, but her over-acting had me laughing quite a bit. The dog is both talented and adorable. There are several cute scenes of him interacting with other animals and doing tricks like getting into and out of his collar so he can go out and play on the beach without his owner knowing.
It’s a shame that the rest of the film is so boring. The two main characters are painfully dull. Also, for a movie about an artist there aren’t nearly as many artistic scenes as you would think. He doesn’t even start creating art of Mirren’s character until the second half of the film. Age of Consent is just a boring film concept with uninteresting characters (outside of tertiary character “Ma” and Godfrey the dog). It’s watchable but I certainly wouldn’t recommend it for most.
Video Quality and Final Thoughts
While both of these films are presented in high-definition, they are some of the worst-looking Blu-ray films I have seen. Both of the films have considerable digital noise. Cactus Flower looks slightly better but it is also a film that doesn’t really need to look great (as it is a comedy mostly set in an apartment, a record store, and a dentist office). Age of Consent is more of the type of film you would consider watching in high-definition as it has beaches and art. Unfortunately, much of Age of Consent looks barely better than DVD quality. I would say that both films are likely a slight improvement over their DVD counterparts but it isn’t noticeable enough that you need to upgrade. I don’t expect older films to look amazing on Blu-ray but these transfers are still a bit disappointing even with the age of the films factored in.
One positive thing about this release is that Age of Consent is the full 106-minute cut instead of the shorter (98-minute) cut that removed most of the nudity. This release is also very cheap, just $8.99 at press time on Amazon for the two films. Cactus Flower sells for more than that on DVD alone so if you are interested in these films, the price is definitely right on this release (even though the video quality isn’t a huge upgrade). However, I personally don’t think either of these two films are essential to watch and I gave both of them a mediocre 2.5/5. For me, a 2.5 usually means a film is watchable but not something I enjoyed quite enough to recommend.
Age of Consent/Cactus Flower Double Feature was released on Blu-ray on October 23, 2018.
Buy Age of Consent/Cactus Flower Double Feature on Amazon: Blu-ray
We would like to thank Mill Creek Entertainment for the review copy of Age of Consent/Cactus Flower Double Feature used for this review. Other than receiving the review copy we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation. Receiving the review copy had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.