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Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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The 'Inception' generational chasm: Is it about age or is it about taste? Readers react

August 3, 2010 |  5:32 pm

Leo_decaptrio I've been getting deluged with e-mail and comments about this week's column "Why Is It That the Older You Are the More You Can't Stand 'Inception'?"

As it turns out, while many "older" filmmakers loathed the film, a host of oldsters have just as vociferously begged to differ, saying the movie was a wonderful delight. But no matter on which side of the divide people stood, they all had strong opinions. All I can say is that you know the movie is an across-the-board smash when it not only attracts tons of young guys, but also a 62-year-old woman who brought her parents, ages 86 and 87, who all loved the film.

A number of older readers made the valid point that what Chris Nolan did with his puzzle-box story structure was no different from what several generations of novelists have been doing with old-fashioned printed-word storytelling -- turning narrative over, under, sideways and down.

As Michele Watnick wrote, she and her husband are "geezers" at 63 but made a point of seeing the film on an Imax screen. As she put it: "We are not gamers, we are literate and have read many convoluted mysteries and multi-leveled novels that required mental puzzle solving capabilities." Saying she was disappointed in the way I wrote off oldsters as being non-fans, she mischievously closed with: "Perhaps this e-mail will be the 'kicker' that wakes you up before you hit the water!"

On the other hand, Windu, who described himself as a hard-core gamer in his 40s, thought the film was disappointing: "A great premise and great effects ruined by using both for a silly heist/caper plot and by [the] way too much horribly directed gunplay." Other fans saw a film that was a prisoner of its influences. Greg Ebert insisted that the film wasn't original at all, but "more like a mix of 'The Matrix,' 'Brainstorm' and a few James Bond films from the '70s." Or as Alann put it: "OK, so Christopher Nolan figured out a way to stack three action movie chase scenarios into one movie. Wow."

There were even marital divides, as with the e-mail I got from a 60-year-old man who said, "I didn't get it," while adding that his 55-year-old wife "loved" the film. He asked: "Where do we fit in?" Ron Marcus, 75, said he saw the film with a quartet of "geezers" who watched in bewilderment, while their fortysomething children raved about it. His suggestion: "This movie needs a new rating system -- maybe 'not recommended for those over 55 (or 60?)."

My favorite story came courtesy of Ron Fox, who e-mailed to say that he watched "Inception" with his 12-year-old gamer son, who, as he described it, "loved and understood it, though he admitted he couldn't explain it to me if I didn't get it." In the theater lobby, they ran into a middle-aged film producer who admitted to not entirely understanding the film either. Fox said to his friend: " 'Let me tell you what a great movie is -- a really messy guy has to share apartments with a really neat guy and the two drive each other crazy. That's a good movie.' My friend laughed, said 'The Odd Couple' and then we both felt really old."

I'm beginning to think that "Inception" is having that kind of effect on moviegoers. It makes some people feel ridiculously old and some people feel impossibly young, but it's definitely made everyone want to go out to the movies again.

RELATED: Why is it that the older you are the more you can't stand 'Inception'?

Photo: Leonardo DiCaprio, left, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt in a scene from Christopher Nolan's "Inception." Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures