THE ODD COUPLE II
Although slobby Oscar Madison (Matthau) had never expected to see his
compulsive neatnick ex-roommate Felix Ungar (Lemmon) again, he gets a call
from his son Bruce (Single Guy Jonathan Silverman) and finds that
the unimaginable has happened: Bruce has fallen in love with Felix's daughter
Hannah (Lisa Waltz) and they're planning to get married this weekend. Not
only does Oscar have to drop everything and leave his poker game in Sarasota
to travel to California, but he has to see the man who almost drove him
insane 30 years ago. And he must drive with Felix from the airport to the
wedding, a several-hour trip. Plenty of time to catch up.
From the moment they leave Felix's suitcase at the airport (with the
directions in it), their trip together doesn't go well at all. As they travel
aimlessly through southern California, trying to remember the name of the
small town where the wedding is, they bicker and irritate each other as
much if not more than before, yet both realize that they need each other
if they're going to get out of this fix.
One could hardly expect this to be much different from the Grumpy
movies, especially since their children got married in that story too. I
mean, it's two cantankerous old guys who don't get along. But these two
work so well together, who cares? It's funny just to watch them look
at each other, and with Simon to give them the words, there are many laugh-out-loud
moments. Director Howard Deutch wisely left them to their own devices; trying
to direct these guys would be gilding the lily.
Unfortunately, most of the scenes which involve other people are tiresome
and ill-advised. With the exception of Christine Baranski (Cybill),
who proves that at 46 she's still got the sex appeal of a college co-ed,
the supporting cast serves as little else than crutches for a lame storyline.
The plot is terribly convoluted; in the original movie they were full-time
roommates, but here they're just stuck in the same bad weekend together,
so there's no real need for conflict. We see a series of unlikely situations
designed to get Felix and Oscar in trouble as many times as possible. The
twist at the end is tacked on to ensure the possibility of another sequel,
an unfortunate move.
But dialogue is Simon's specialty, and when the two are alone together,
though their situations may seem ludicrous, their banter is usually hysterical.
The entire final scene, with Oscar back home with his poker buddies, is
lifted almost verbatim from the '68 movie. Also reminiscent is the music
by Alan Sylvestri, which includes liberal use of the famous theme penned
30 years ago by Neal Hefti.
Lemmon and Matthau could make us laugh just as loudly if they had performed this whole movie sitting in two chairs on an empty set. Come to think of it, maybe they should have. ***½
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