Help pack a million meals for struggling seniors on Sept. 11. Volunteer today




Movies for Grownups


Caucasian couple looking at a laptop computer together


Virgo - AARP Horoscope

Look at what your future holds if your birthday is between August 23 & September 22

Contests & Sweeps

Enter the $50K Picture Your Retirement Sweepstakes. Ends 8/31/15. No purchase necessary. Enter for Official Rules.


The tablet with free 24/7 customer support. Learn More

Most Popular


Movie Review: 'Argo'

Ben Affleck directs and stars in entertaining look at unknown chapter of Iran hostage crisis

Director: Ben Affleck
Rating R. Running Time: 120 mins.
Stars: Ben Affleck, John Goodman, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin

Truth is stranger than fiction, it's a fact; but when truth and fiction morph into each other, the strangeness factor increases exponentially. That's what happens in Argo, director/star Ben Affleck's ingenious take on the real-life CIA mission that rescued six Americans during the 1979-81 Iran hostage crisis.

Argo is based on a true story and stars (clockwise from left) SCOOT McNAIRY as Joe Stafford, BEN AFFLECK as Tony Mendez, RORY COCHRANE as Lee Schatz, CHRISTOPHER DENHAM as Mark Lijek, and TATE DONOVAN as Bob Anders.

Ben Affleck leads a reading of the fake movie script that drives the ripped-from-the-headlines story of "Argo." — Claire Folger

When student radicals overran the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, taking 52 Americans hostage, six embassy workers managed to escape to the residence of the Canadian ambassador. There they sat for months, unable to even show their faces in the windows for fear of capture. It was then that CIA operative Tony Mendez (studiously played here by Affleck) hatched a so-crazy-it-just-might-work plot: He'd enter Iran posing as a Canadian film producer scouting locations for a science fiction film, then introduce the six fugitives as his crew. Finally, they'd all leave on a commercial flight to freedom.

From the start in Argo, Mendez's CIA bosses think his is a hare-brained scheme. But they've got nothing better to offer (other than providing the fugitives with bicycles, which they would then pedal 300 miles to the border). The movie scheme is sanctioned, but the whole thing needs to look good in case the Iranians get suspicious. So Mendez goes to Hollywood to enlist the help of a real movie producer (Alan Arkin) and a master makeup artist (John Goodman). Determined to find what Arkin's producer describes as a "hit fake movie," they pore over scripts, finally settling on an abysmal Star Wars rip-off called Argo.

Mendez slips into Iran and goes about his business, dutifully convincing the authorities that he really does want to make a film amid all the Ayatollah insanity. He coaches the fugitives on their new identities and painstakingly fakes their new passports. Understandably, the six are doubtful the plan can work, but they soon realize they have no choice. To remind us of just how high the stakes are, Affleck frequently gives us glimpses of life for the 52 hostages — sleeping on floors, paraded in blindfolds before violent crowds and, in one harrowing scene, subjected to a mock firing squad.

That latter scene is brilliantly handled by Affleck and screenwriter Chris Terrio as the naked brutality of the Iranians is juxtaposed with a gala public Hollywood run-through of the Argo script. The patently absurd script reading — complete with hopeful actors dressed as robots and intergalactic princesses — borders on the ludicrous. Yet it is from this very exercise in Tinseltown excess that the lives of six Americans dangle. 

Arkin and Goodman are deliciously energetic in their roles as lifelong fantasymakers who, for once, get to do something real. Bryan Cranston, as Mendez' supportive CIA boss, turns what is usually a thankless role ("You've got 17 hours to get them out of there!!") into a lovingly nuanced portrayal of a guy driven by a deeply felt affection for humanity.

"If you want recognition," he tells Mendez, "join the circus."

"I thought we did," Mendez responds. 

Indeed, there are three rings of action and intrigue and more going on in Argo; enough, perhaps, to even warrant buying a ticket for another show, just to enjoy Ben Affleck's high wire act one more time.

You may also like:

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Your Scoop on Cinema

Movies for Grownups is focused on films with distinct relevance to a 50-plus audience. In reviews, previews and interviews, we look for actors and themes that speak to the experiences of older moviegoers. Find more about us on:


100 Must-See Movies for Grownups

100 Must-See Movies for Grownups

By Bill Newcott
January 2015

A treasure trove of delightfully offbeat recommendations for discerning moviegoers, from the beginnings of film right up the present.

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Live Nation

Members save 25% or more when buying tickets in groups of four from Ticketmaster.

Cirque Du Soleil

Members save 15-30% on tickets to live Cirque du Soleil shows.

Member Benefit AARP Regal 2

Members pay $8 for Regal ePremiere tickets purchased online. Conditions apply.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points