Grumpier Old Men

This movie is a sequel to an earlier movie (Grumpy Old Men), about some friends, Max Goldman (Walter Matthau) and John Gustafson (Jack Lemmon). In this movie, John has married Ariel (Ann-Margaret) and Max pretends that he is perfectly fine, though he acts jealous and lonely. He claims the only joy left in his life is fishing, but the old bait shop is bought by a beautiful woman, Maria Ragatti (Sophia Loren) and her mother, Mama Ragetti (Ann Guilbert) and he and John try sabotaging her efforts to turn the building into an upscale "ristorante." John's lusty old father (Burgess Meredith) shows up again in this movie and flirts with women in a very raunchy way.

Part of the story involves a huge fish named "Catfish Hunter," that lives in a nearby lake which no one has been able to catch. Another part of the story involves the impending wedding of Max's son, Jacob (Kevin Pollak) and John's daughter, Melanie (Daryl Hannah) which puts love in the air. Soon, against his will, Max falls in love with Maria. There are scenes of the pairings off of young people getting married, old married people, old, unmarried people flirting and "getting some," and of two old friends fighting, or giving other people a hard time or off fishing, trying to catch an old fish.

There isn't much more to the plot, but the dialogue between the characters is hilarious. John and Max fight over everything and deliver put-downs or miss saying exactly what they wanted to say just enough to ruin the sentiment of what they are trying to say.

Max is the character that the film focuses on, and he is the one that is the subject of analysis in this paper. He exhibits symptoms of depression, dementia, alcoholism and an unhealthy diet. He is seen to be refusing a dinner invitation with his friends, yet wishing he were with someone. He misses his wife and talks about her a lot. He spies on his friend and acts jealous of the fact that John is married, but he doesn't want to date. He always has a six-pack of beer with him and sometimes he is drinking. He is irritable and nasty to everyone (one of the early symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, but also a symptom of depression). He has three TVs on all the time and tries to drown out his emotions by immersing himself in TV programs. He is a bad driver and every day hits the garbage cans at the end of the driveway. He tries to fix a dinner for Maria that proves that he doesn't have a healthy diet.

Max tries to remember what he was going to say to Maria and flubs up what it was he was going to say badly. It would not be unusual to find that Max suffers from memory loss. As many as four million Americans live with some degree of dementia. As the population of elderly people grows, the incidence of Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia, and other kinds of dementia will probably increase. Dementia is highly prevalent in older people today, and symptoms can be seen in forty percent of people over the age of eighty. Alzheimer's disease is not the only reason for dementia. Numerous other conditions can contribute to its development. These range from vascular disease to vitamin deficiency. Parkinson's disease is a degenerative disease resulting from the loss of dopamine in the brain. Huntington's disease is inherited and progressive. It also is a result of the death of dopamine-producing cells in the brain. Alzheimer's disease is the most common reason for senile dementia and loss of memory, though Alzheimer patients have no problem remembering things from long ago. (About, 2006)

The Journal Cell reported on October 19, 2006 that U.S. researchers spotted a protein that switches on the brain's natural antioxidant defense system. This defense protects brain cells from toxic free radicals, a waste product of cell metabolism linked to aging and health problems, including heart attack, stroke and cancer. This was discovered by a team from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. (Preidt. 2006)

Experts believe that some brain diseases involve a failure of the brain's antioxidant defense system. In research using rodents, a group in Boston found that the regulatory protein PGC-1a switches on the brain's antioxidant defense system when free radicals begin to accumulate. In another experiment, the scientists found that turning on PGC-1a to high levels in laboratory-cultured human and mouse brain cells protected the cells against nerve toxins.

The findings were published in the journal Cell. The authors said their findings suggest that it may be possible to develop drugs to boost the antioxidant system in the brain in order to treat diseases such as Parkinson's, Huntington's, and Alzheimer's. They are currently testing compounds to find which ones will work. (Huang. 2005, pp 105-6)

Alzheimer's is a serious risk to the majority of Americans as they age. It begins slowly and sporadically. The only symptom is forgetfulness at first, which can be confused with senility. Most people who are just forgetful do not have Alzheimer's. At first AD sufferers have problems with people's names, events, activities or things they should know. They may not be able to do simple math, but this may go unnoticed or the patient may hide this flaw.

There are seven warning signs of Alzheimer's disease:

1. Asking the same question over and over again.

2. Repeating the same story, word for word, again and again.

3. Forgetting how to cook, or how to make repairs, or how to play cards -- activities that were previously done with ease and regularity.

4. Losing one's ability to pay bills or balance one's checkbook.

5. Getting lost in familiar surroundings, or misplacing household objects.

6. Neglecting to bathe, or wearing the same clothes over and over again, while insisting that they have taken a bath or that their clothes are still clean.

7. Relying on someone else, such as a spouse, to make decisions or answer questions they previously would have handled themselves. (Seven, 2006)

Of course, coronary artery disease (atherosclerosis) has the effect of stopping blood flow to the brain, and along with chronic stress and aging, can "lead to a diminution of hippocampal functioning," affecting spatial and declarative memory." (Williams, et al. 1980) This would have explained Max's inability to determine where the garbage cans were each day when he hit them. However, data shows that, though the brain may regenerate neuronal connections, this may be hampered by chronic stress. And in depressed patients the hippocampus actually degenerates and begins to atrophy. In a recent study, it was reported that cortisol levels during aging are elevated in people with hippocampal atrophy and specific memory loss in the brain. It is still unknown whether this process can be reversed or is treatable. (McEwen, 1998)

Max also may likely have been suffering from depression. As one depressed person put it:

Anyone who suffers from depression knows, only too clearly, that being depressed and not being depressed is like inhabiting two different planets - we feel like two different people and life feels like two completely different experiences. Medication, therapy or life's circumstances can help move us out of depression. (Pearce. 1999)

In this film, Max moved out of depression by a circumstance in his life: falling in love. This is a great way to lose one's depression. The only problem with this form of therapy is that it does not last forever. Eventually the honeymoon is over and the depressed person falls back into depression, unless counseling is sought and/or medications are being taken.

The connections between depression and loss of brain cells seem to be numerous. Certain personalities tend to bring depression, substance abuse and high hostility together. Twenty-five years ago, a study done on college freshman identified those with a "high hostility" personality profile. When they were tested again at age 42, these individuals consumed more caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco, weighed more; and had higher cholesterol levels than their "low-hostility" peers. Studies have tried to find the molecular reason that provokes hostility and causes heart disease. Epinephrine, it was found, is notably higher in "high-hostility" subjects in the morning (the same time that other hormones are also naturally elevated due to the circadian biological rhythm). Thus, heart attacks frequently occur between 6:00 A.M. And noon. The neurotransmitter serotonin appears to be involved in the cause and maintenance of a variety of behavioral states and tendencies, including substance abuse, when it is found to be low. (Davis, 2006)

Depression is linked to some of the other symptoms that Max displayed in the film and will be discussed in conjunction with these in the following treatments of those symptoms. As with other biophysical and psychosomatic behavior problems, every part of one's body is linked to the other and mental states affect the physical body, as well as vice versa.

Max seemed to have an unhealthy diet. This…