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Grumpy Old Men
1993 - PG-13 - 103 Mins.
Director: Donald Petrie
Producer: Richard C. Berman, John Davis
Written By: Mark Steven Johnson
Starring: Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Ann-Margret, Burgess Meredith, Daryl Hannah, Kevin Pollak, Christopher McDonald, John Carroll Lynch
Review by: John Ulmer
   

Is that my Oscar floating away?
A film like "Grumpy Old Men" makes you wonder what went wrong. Here we have one of the best couples in history, the odd couple themselves, Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon. We have a director who has brought us some silly, funny stuff. But "Grumpy Old Men" seems only to have silly stuff, and nothing really funny. As amusing as it might be to see old pals Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau mumbling, grumbling and bumbling around 24/7, it gets a bit tiring. Perhaps with a stronger script the film could have sustained the feeling of warmth and humor that it set up in the beginning, but it seems that the story sets up the laughs, only to have them dissipate away before we can even smile. Seeing the men grumble constantly soon becomes irritable and boring due to the script by Mark Steven Johnson, of which seems to think that grumbling fills in for laughs.

Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon play two old men who constantly argue with each other, and who love to hate each other (or is it the other way around?). They fish together, yet at the same time seperately, every year. They live next to each other yet bicker continually. They like each other but pretend to despise each other. But things get really grumpy when both of the men fall in love with the exact same woman--a woman who just moved into their neighborhood and has immediately started to display interest in each of them. She rides her snowmobile around drawing attention to herself, and tries to lure the men into her web of love. Now the two old men will have another thing to be grumpy about until the whole thing is resolved, while, in the meantime, Lemmon's daughter, Daryl Hannah, starts to fall in love with Matthau's son, Kevin Pollack (these things will be sorted out in the sequel, "Grumpier Old Men.").

There are a few things I find hard to believe in this film. I find it hard to believe that Matthau and Lemmon's love interest in this film sees anything in these two old men, when they are about twice her age. With everyone in the neighborhood, she picks the two oldest men? I'm not a woman, so I have no idea about being attracted to other males--but if I were, I doubt I'd pick the oldest guys around. I can say that if I were to move into a neighborhood, I would not immediately look for the oldest women around.

Another thing I find hard to believe is that Daryl Hannah would be attracted to Pollack's character after she sees him staring at her from across the street, from a window. In normal life that would be pretty freaky, and would end in the woman closing the curtains and calling the cops, but in Grumpy Old Men Land, it seems that odd, balding men staring at women through windows is attractive and sweet. Aw, how nice. In fact, if they had ever made another sequel to this film ("Grumpiest Old Men"), I see a possibilty in making Pollack's character a homicidal maniac who murders Hannah and then shoots himself. Call it a dream.

Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon are one of the best comedy pairings I've ever seen; after the success of "The Odd Couple," it seems that filmmakers think that the charm of the film was a shouting match between the actors. But that isn't what made "The Odd Couple." What made the film were likable, deep, intelligent characters with personalities, saying witty remarks and insults.

But what the filmmakers see is a film where two men argue constantly. And ever since "The Odd Couple," Lemmon and Matthau seem to appear in films together where their lines consist of adlibs (did I spell that right?) and a bunch of shouting, when the film their roles nowadays are based on was so much more than just a bunch of shouting and arguing.

"Grumpy Old Men" has the right material for a great comedy, but it doesn't pull it off well enough. It seems that the film had no confidence in anything other than its leading men arguing constantly; and without witty lines, this makes for a dull movie.
 
Movie Guru Rating
Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better. Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better.
  2 out of 5 stars

 
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