Cape Cod circa 1905 provides the setting for Daniel Adams’ arthritic romantic comedy “The Golden Boys.” Doing the “Grumpy Old Men” triangle one better, three crusty retired sea captains — Bruce Dern, Rip Torn and David Carradine — vie for mail-order bride Mariel Hemingway. It seems particularly perverse to take actors who helped develop the ’60’s thesping style of hang-loose, semi-improvisational immediacy and stick them in a creaky period piece glazed with arch gentility and ersatz quaintness. Bowing April 17 at Gotham’s Quad Cinema, the pic might wind up moored in Lifetime or Hallmark channels before sinking without a trace.
Clumsily adapted by Adams from a 1915 novel, the script boasts an extraneous subplot involving Charles Durning as a religious zealot. Ploddingly directed, with the camera monotonously glued to whomever is speaking, the three principal geezers are encouraged to mug with a lack of subtlety that went out with silent movies. The vets emerge relatively unscathed, even managing to wrest the unwieldy vessel into port. But only Hemingway thrives, the odd hitches and hesitancies of her mannered approach neatly attuned to New England primness and suffused with surprising warmth.