Monday, January 18, 2010

The Sunshine Boys

Year 2, Day 17 - 1/17/10 - Movie #382

BEFORE: From the Ziegfeld Follies to vaudeville comics - I've seen parts of this movie before, but maybe not the whole thing, start to finish. It counts as an examination of what happens when famous comedians get old and cranky.

THE PLOT: A vaudeville duo agree to reunite for a TV special, but it turns out that they can't stand each other.

AFTER: Based on a Neil Simon play, re-creating some of the jokes and timing of the old vaudeville routines, about a fictional comic team, Lewis and Clark. Willy Clark (Walter Matthau) is convinced by his nephew (Richard Benjamin) that he should re-team with his old partner, Al Lewis (George Burns) for a TV special about the golden age of comedy, and perform their famous "doctor" sketch.

Problem is, the pair haven't spoken for 11 years, and there's plenty of bad blood between them. When they reunite to rehearse, the years melt away but the old arguments resurface, and their long history together means that they know exactly how to push each other's buttons.

Their comic timing is impeccable, even in their casual conversations - at one point they even admit that they no longer know where their routines end and their conversations begin. Even in the scene where Ben Clark is convincing Lewis to do the reunion show, I wasn't sure if Lewis' repetition of everything said to him was due to senility, or if he was just messing with the guy. Great comic timing either way, being exactly three seconds behind him on every conversational point...

Guest-starring Steve Allen, Phyllis Diller, Howard Hesseman as a commercial director, and F. Murray Abraham as a car mechanic (!) Also starring some great NYC locations like the Ed Sullivan Theater and the Carnegie Deli (or was it the Stage Deli?)

RATING: 7 out of 10 stethoscopes

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