These two have collaborated with some success before, in 1992's Housesitter.
This time, in a revival of Neil Simon's The Out-Of-Towners (1970),
the couple play Henry and Nancy Clark, a middle-class Ohio couple whose
kids have gone to college and left them with nothing to do but each other.
Henry has a job interview at a New York ad agency, and even though Nancy
isn't sure she likes the idea of moving there, she goes with him on the
trip to see the sights and get her mind off the empty nest back home. Henry
is afraid to tell Nancy that his real reason for job-hunting is that he
was downsized in favor of a younger model (as he puts it, "anyone who's
over 40 is no longer cutting edge"), so he welcomes her on the journey,
feigning excitement to cover his uncomfortable secret.
Before long, Murphy's Law has made its presence felt, subjecting the
couple to a rerouted plane, a missed train, a rental car whose heater won't
shut off, and various other annoyances. Then they are mugged by a man claiming
to be Andrew Lloyd Webber, and they have no method of payment when they
try to check into the posh hotel where Henry has booked a room. It is at
this point that we meet John Cleese as Mr. Mersault, the hotel's manager,
a performance that comes darned close to stealing the movie. Mustering their
courage and pushing their newfound sense of adventure to its absolute limit,
Henry and Nancy suffer through countless other misadventures, finally finding
themselves on the run from the law.
This film, though it may not compare to Arthur Hiller's classic 1970
version with Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennis, is still one hoot after another.
Directed by Sam Weisman (George of the Jungle), and with the combined
experience of these three veterans of comedy I include Cleese as
an equal partner here the timing and delivery of almost every line
and every take is right on. Simon's script has been updated by Marc Lawrence
(Forces of Nature), and I'm not
sure what material is his and what is Simon's, but Hawn, Martin, and Cleese
do fine by it. Also on hand is Saturday Night Live alum Mark McKinney
as an amorous hotel guest Nancy uses to get at some room service. McKinney
has proven himself as a hilarious comic, but this time he's playing the
Martin and Hawn are perfect for these roles. They show that despite the fact that they're pushing 60, they're still full of energy and youthful exuberance. And Cleese, well . . . I haven't seen him doing high kicks like that since his days at the Ministry of Silly Walks. ****½
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