Forever Young (1992 film)

Forever Young is a 1992 American science fiction-romantic drama film directed by Steve Miner and starring Mel Gibson, Elijah Wood, and Jamie Lee Curtis. The screenplay was written by J. J. Abrams from an original story named "The Rest of Daniel".

Forever Young
Theatrical release poster
Directed bySteve Miner
Produced byBruce Davey
Written byJ. J. Abrams
Music byJerry Goldsmith
CinematographyRussell Boyd
Edited byJon Poll
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
  • December 11, 1992 (1992-12-11)
Running time
102 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$128 million[1]


In 1939, Captain Daniel McCormick is a United States Army Air Corps test pilot. After a successful run and subsequent crash landing in a prototype North American B-25 Mitchell bomber at Alexander Field in Northern California, McCormick is greeted by his longtime friend, Harry Finley, who is a scientist. Finley confides that his latest experiment, "Project B", has succeeded in doing the impossible. The machine, built by Finley and his team of scientists, is a prototype chamber for cryonic freezing. When McCormick's girlfriend, Helen, goes into a coma from an accident and the doctors doubt she will ever recover, McCormick insists he be put in suspended animation for one year, starting November 26, 1939, so he will not have to watch Helen die.

Fifty-three years later in 1992, two boys are playing inside a military storage warehouse which is being emptied in preparation for its demolition. They discover the suspended animation chamber containing McCormick and are enticed by it. Believing it to be a miniature submarine, they proceed to play with its dials and controls and accidentally activate the restoration process. The chamber opens and McCormick reflexively grabs one boy's coat, causing them to flee in terror, leaving the coat clasped in McCormick's hand. Shortly after, McCormick awakens to the realization that it is now 1992. After appropriating shorts and a shirt from a clothesline, he first approaches the military about his experiences. When they dismiss him as crazed, McCormick becomes more determined to learn what happened to Finley, Helen, and the world that has seemingly evolved overnight around him.

An address tag inside the jacket leads McCormick to the owner, 10-year old Nat Cooper, one of the two boys who opened the chamber. Though the boys are initially terrified, McCormick is able to calm Nat and his friend with the truth of his story. While hiding in Nat's tree house with a secret stash of junk food, he witnesses Nat's single mother Claire being assaulted by her abusive, alcoholic ex-boyfriend and goes to her defense. After McCormick receives a gash in the fight, Claire, a nurse, fixes it up and a bond develops between the two. This bond is strengthened when she offers McCormick a place to stay, until he can discover what to do with his search. Nonetheless, McCormick's time is running out, as his body starts to age rapidly because the suspended animation chamber process was not entirely successful.

When another "aging attack" practically cripples McCormick, Claire is told the amazing truth. Susan, Finley's daughter, informs him that her father died many years earlier, before she was born (the government later specifies it was a warehouse fire in the early '40s, while trying to save the frozen McCormick from the chaos). Susan also gives McCormick her father's journals, hoping he can use them to reverse his own condition. However, according to the journals, the cryogenic process did not properly stop aging, but rather postponed it, thus explaining Daniel's own rapid aging. Before leaving, Susan gives McCormick one further revelation: Helen is alive. The government is also after McCormick, but in the end, Claire hands over Finley's journals on "Project B" and no one is arrested as the government investigates what went wrong.

McCormick's final task is to find Helen in the present day. McCormick commandeers a B-25 bomber from an air show with Nat a stowaway on board. Claire notices Nat is gone and he was last in the plane with Daniel. The Government will wait for Nat and Daniel to get back and escort them home, so they can finish their research on Harry's machine and research from the hospital on Daniel's condition too. Nat helps McCormick land when another attack nearly kills him. His true age having finally caught up with him, the now-elderly McCormick reunites with the elderly Helen and asks her to marry him and she accepts.


Mel GibsonCaptain Daniel McCormick, USAAC[2]
Jamie Lee CurtisClaire Cooper
Elijah WoodNat Cooper
Isabel GlasserHelen
George WendtHarry Finley
Joe MortonCameron
Nicolas SurovyJohn
David Marshall GrantLt. Col. Wilcox, USAF
Robert Hy GormanFelix
Millie SlavinSusan Finley
Michael GoorjianSteven
Veronica LaurenAlice
Art LaFleurAlice's Father
Eric PierpointFred
Richard RyderPilots at Airshow
Michael BriggsPilots at Airshow
Walton Goggins[3]Gate MP
B-25 Mitchell


In November 1990, Warner Bros. purchased the film rights to "The Rest of Daniel" for $2 million, the most ever paid for a screenplay. Ostensibly purchased as a star vehicle for Gibson, he turned down the opportunity to direct the feature.[4]

A North American B-25J Mitchell known as "Photo Fanny" (from the Planes of Fame Museum in Chino, California) is featured prominently in the film, both as the B-25 prototype and later as the restored warbird McCormick flies to his beloved.[5]


Critically, Forever Young met with mixed reviews, Roger Ebert noted, "[Forever Young] is not one of the most inspired (of the time travel movies), even though it has its heart in the right place."[6] Box Office characterized it as "gooey sentiment and melodrama", playing on Gibson's name.[7] Rita Kempley from the Washington Post dismissed the film as "A pablum of schmaltz and science fiction ..."[8] The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported that 57% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 23 reviews, with an average rating of 5.47/10.[9]

Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade of "A-" on scale of A+ to F.[10]

Box office

Despite the lukewarm reviews, mostly focused on the script, the film did well with audiences, and took in $127,956,187 worldwide. Forever Young opened to a first weekend gross of $5,609,875 and went on to gross $55,956,187 in the domestic market. It grossed approximately $72,000,000 in the foreign market.[1] A Hollywood premiere was turned into a fund-raiser for two of Gibson's charities, the West Hollywood Alcohol and Drug Recovery Center and the Santa Monica Homeless Drop-in Center. A total of $70,000 was raised for both charities.[7]

See also


  1. Forever Young at Box Office Mojo
  2. Rainer, Peter. "A Freeze-Dried Romance: 'Forever Young' Is Fashioned From Cliches and Recycled Goods." The Los Angeles Times, December 16, 1992. Retrieved: November 23, 2010.
  3. Goggins in Murray, Noel (November 23, 2008). "Walton Goggins". The A.V. Club. Retrieved January 7, 2017. I was in a movie called Forever Young, with Mel Gibson. I just saw the director up here in Canada the other day—Steve Miner. ...[W]hen you're a young actor, you live for those days. It was a day with Mel Gibson. ... Early in my career, those small roles I got, they were pretty two-dimensional, buddy, for the most part. But you do what you can do with it on your day, and you're thankful for it.
  4. Clarkson 2004, p. 276.
  5. Budd, Dave. "Mitchell B-25 “Photo Fanny” – N3675G." Photo Recon's Classic Warbirds, March 9, 2010. Retrieved: October 16, 2011.
  6. " 'Forever Young' Review." December 16, 1992.
  7. Clarkson 2004, p. 277.
  8. Kempley, Rita. "'Forever Young’ ." Washington Post, December 16, 1992.
  9. "Forever Young (1992)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved January 1, 2020.
  10. "Cinemascore". Archived from the original on 2018-12-20.


  • Clarkson, Wensley. Mel Gibson: Man on a Mission. London: John Blake, 2004. ISBN 1-85782-537-3.
  • McCarty, John. The Films of Mel Gibson. New York: Citadel, 2001. ISBN 0-8065-2226-7.