Baby Boomer Winter of Discontent: “The Big Chill”

Posted on March 14th, 2012 in 1980s,Hippie,Me Generation,Movies,Pop Culture by Terry Hamburg

Reagan is President. The word “hippie” is used with past tense verbs. Yuppies and the “Me-Generation” are rearing their greedy heads. It’s the 1980s. Where have all the flowers gone?

OMG! Baby boomers are facing a thirty-something crisis. It’s a new pop culture movie genre. Not a “coming-of-age” story, but a “coming-to-terms” story.

“In a cold world you need your friends to keep you warm” is the tag line for the ensemble soap opera of boomer refugees at the funeral of an old college buddy who committed suicide. All have morphed from youthful baby boomer idealism to lives of alienation and angst.

One began as a radical journalist and now writes fluff for People Magazine. A playboy is impotent. Another endures an unhappy marriage to an affluent, conservative lawyer. A successful woman wants a kid but not a husband. The sound track blares “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” All fear that the depression which led their charismatic, fun-loving friend to take his life will afflict them.

The Big Chill might have seemed a bit self-indulgent and glib but struck a chord with a boomer generation in retreat. It held the #1 box office spot for a two weeks and inspired the hit television show Thirty-Something.

Movie critic Roger Ebert noted: “The characters have all the right clothes, expressions, fears, lusts and ambitions. But there’s no payoff and it doesn’t lead anywhere. I thought at first that was a weakness of the movie. There also is the possibility that it’s the movie’s message.”

Trivia Factoids

The deceased friend was a young Kevin Costner who appears in a casket without a head shot. Other of his scenes end up on the cutting room floor. Not to despair. Director Lawrence Kasdan promised the hot prospect a good role in his next movie, Silverado. It launched Costner’s career.

Baby Boomers By The Numbers


Price of a movie ticket: $3.15

Average price of a car to drive to the movie: $8500

Price of gas to fuel your car: $1.25 a gallon

Median yearly income: $21,000

Related Post: Click on→ Are Baby Boomers Happier Than Their Kids?

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