Saturday movie review: 'The Boomer List'

You've surely heard the news many times in the past year or so: The last of the baby boomers turn 50 this year! In celebration of that cultural milestone comes THE BOOMER LIST from filmmaker Timothy Greenfield-Sanders.

The Boomer List

Officially titled for its PBS airing American Masters: The Boomer List, this engaging documentary — which I had the opportunity to screen, courtesy PBS — premieres on PBS channels across the nation on Tuesday, Sept. 23 9-10:30 p.m. (check local lisitings). In the film, Greenfield-Sanders shares video "portraits" of 19 iconic baby boomers, one born each year of the baby boom, 1946 to 1964.

 

The full list of boomers profiled in intimate segments:

  • 1946 Tim O’Brien, Vietnam vet / author
  • 1947 Deepak Chopra, M.D., New Age guru
  • 1948 Samuel L. Jackson, actor
  • 1949 Billy Joel, singer-songwriter
  • 1950 Steve Wozniak, co-founder, Apple Computer
  • 1951 Tommy Hilfiger, fashion designer
  • 1952 Amy Tan, author
  • 1953 Eve Ensler, playwright
  • 1954 Julieanna Richardson, founder, The HistoryMakers
  • 1955 Maria Shriver, journalist
  • 1956 Kim Cattrall, actor
  • 1957 Virginia Rometty, CEO, IBM
  • 1958 Ellen Ochoa, Director, Johnson Space Center
  • 1959 Ronnie Lott, athlete
  • 1960 Erin Brockovich, environmentalist
  • 1961 Peter Staley, AIDS activist
  • 1962 Rosie O’Donnell, entertainer
  • 1963 David LaChapelle, artist
  • 1964 John Leguizamo, actor

As one of the last baby boomers — I turned 50 a few months ago — I was riveted by THE BOOMER LIST, viewing it as snips of wisdom and wit from my fellow boomers who'd gone before me. Each of the boomers profiled is hugely successful in his or her field, and many of them share in their portrait what inspired them to take the path they did.

I was surprised that the boomers I thought would have the funniest spots in THE BOOMER LIST — Rosie O'Donnell and John Leguizamo — turned out to share more poignant thoughts than I expected on what led them to where they are. To wit:

 Rosie O'Donnell The Boomer ListRosie O'Donnell - ©Timothy Greenfield-Sanders

Rosie O'Donnell: “Public school teachers in Long Island, New York, saved my life in the ’70s. They were involved and invested and helpful. One took me into her family and loved me back to life. She taught me that love is not formed and families are not formed by blood. That love makes a family.” —American Masters: The Boomer List by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders

John Leguizamo The Boomer ListJohn Leguizamo - ©Timothy Greenfield-SandersJohn Leguizamo: “I wasn’t supposed to make it. I just wasn’t. Not statistically. I didn’t see my people anywhere that was important, except in the news, which is where you don’t want to be. I just didn’t feel like I was part of the American fabric.” —American Masters: The Boomer List by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders

Conversely, folks I expected to be more serious were in fact rather humorous. My husband and I both chuckled quite a bit listening to Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Computer, and new-age guru Deepak Chopra's portrait turned out to be most entertaining. One outtake:

Another that turned my idea of him or her on its head was the portrait of fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger. I've never been one to follow fashion or know much about it, but I did think I knew a smidgen about Hilfiger. Nope... not at all. 

Each of the boomers profiled were introspective, enlightening, touching. The variety of icons served as a worthy sampling of my generation. The only icon missing from the portraits was... me!

The Boomer List fake poster 

Hey, I did pose with my friend Mindy for a THE BOOMER LIST portrait of our own last spring at the Life@50+ event. But then again, it's best I wasn't profiled in the film; I have no doubt I could never come across as engaging and interesting as any one of the baby boomers Timothy Greenfield-Sanders shines a light on in THE BOOMER LIST.

THE BOOMER LIST premieres Tuesday, Sept. 23 9-10:30 p.m. on PBS (again, check your local listings). The film will be available on DVD October 1.

BONUS:

Joan Rivers stillPhoto credit: Charles Miller

Airing on PBS immediately after THE BOOMER LIST,  American Masters will present an In Memoriam tribute broadcast of Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work 10:30 p.m.-midnight (check local listings). The broadcast marks the PBS premiere of the documentary for which PBS now has exclusive broadcast rights. The trailer: