Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Grumpy Old Men

Year 8, Day 61 - 3/1/16 - Movie #2,262

BEFORE: Kevin Pollak carries over from "The Wedding Planner", and if that film was a clean-up on the McConnaughey films, then this one's left over from the Lemmon + Matthau films I watched last year, which was quite a few.  I guess I should have worked this in then, but no premium channel had aired it, so I held off.  It still hasn't aired recently (I have no idea how these things work, some lame channel like Oxygen or AMC buys the rights to a film, and retains it for like, 2 years...) so I'm renting it from Amazon, I need the link to some more Ann-Margret films.  

Anyway, I watched the Lemmon and/or Matthau chain last summer, when it made sense to watch films like "The Out of Towners" and "The Prisoner of Second Avenue", set in hot, stifling humid NYC apartments and hotel rooms.  Watching a winter film like this one then might have brought some cooling relief, but it would have made less sense with regards to the calendar.  

And here's the final line-up, the TCM "31 Days of Oscar" programming for tomorrow, March 2:
Agnes Moorehead carries over from "Citizen Kane" to:
"Johnny Belinda" with Alan Napier carrying over to:
"Lassie Come Home" with Alec Craig carrying over to:
"Vivacious Lady" with Franklin Pangborn carrying over to:
"Romance on the High Seas" with S. Z. Sakall carrying over to:
"Small Town Girl" with Robert Keith carrying over to:
"Guys and Dolls" with Jean Simmons carrying over to:
"Spartacus" with Kirk Douglas carrying over to:
"Lust For Life" with Pamela Brown carrying over to:
"A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" with Buster Keaton carrying over to
"Around the World in 80 Days".

It seems like a weird way to end the thing, unless this is a nod to previous years when the films were organized by where they were set, and then they ended with a "victory" lap that went all around the world, and even into outer space.  Maybe they just saved "Around the World in 80 Days" for last because it has the most stars in it, and they figured it would be child's play to link to it from just about anything.

And I've seen 5 of these films, namely "Guys and Dolls" and the four films after it, bringing my final tally to 112 films seen, 241 unseen, with 7 on the watchlist.  Hmm, add those up, carry the 1, and that makes 360 films.  Ah, "360 Degrees of Oscar", I see what you did there.  You clever, clever channel, Turner Classic Movies.  

FOLLOW-UP TO: "The Odd Couple II" (Movie #2,081)

THE PLOT:  A lifelong feud between two neighbors since childhood only gets worse when a new female neighbor moves across the street.

AFTER: The unintended theme for the week so far seems to be "Frenemies" - I couldn't really tell whether J. Lo and McConnaughey were supposed to be in love or in hate, and now we've got a couple of fighting neighbors, who don't really realize that underneath it all, they're really friends and can't get along without the other.  Don't forget, these two actors nearly pioneered the concept of frenemies in the original "Odd Couple" movie - OK, so I guess we credit Neil Simon for doing all the hard work.  

But if Felix and Oscar got old, moved up north and lived next door to each other, they'd probably be like John Gustafson and Max Goldman, with grown-up kids who may end up being perfect for each other.  (Hey, didn't they use that plot point in "The Odd Couple II" also?  But I think this movie came out first, so maybe Neil Simon borrowed the idea - hey, you give and you take.)  

It turns out that John and Max were friends when they were kids, but fought over a woman as young men, and have been rivals ever since - and that old rivalry comes right back when an attractive widow moves in across the street.  She seems at first to be playing both sides, but eventually makes her choice, only to have further complications set in.  Meanwhile one's daughter is getting divorced, and the other's son is single, so let the matchmaking begin.  

This could have been a timeless piece of comedy, but it's the dated references to other films like "Home Alone" and "Risky Business" that unfortunately drag it down.  Jack Lemmon was way too classy to make topical references like that - if they could only have held back a little, this could have been set in any decade, because out in rural Minnesota (or Wisconsin, or whatever) there's really not much difference between the 1990's and, say, the 1960's.  And hearing a senior citizen worry about "safe sex", that's just a little nauseating.  For a guy his age, "safe sex" should mean worrying that he's not going to break a hip.  

Meanwhile, Ann-Margret is just sexy, at any age.  I had a crush on her when I was a teen (more on that over the next few nights, probably) and here she was 52 (allegedly) but still looking fine.  It's also a little weird to see her making out with the older Jack Lemmon, who was in his prime back in 1960 or so.  

There's a lot of heart to this one, even if the jokes aren't laugh-out-loud funny, some of the pranks the two men pulled on each other were, in a slapsticky way.  I usually hate low physical comedy, but after a month of romance films, it's sort of just what I needed.  I didn't realize how holiday-oriented the film is (covering a Thanksgiving and Christmas season) - if I had, I might have saved it for later in the year.

Also starring Jack Lemmon (last seen in "The Odd Couple II"), Walter Matthau (ditto), Ann-Margret (last seen in "The Cheap Detective"), Ossie Davis (last heard in "Dinosaur"), Burgess Meredith (last seen in "Rocky V"), Daryl Hannah (last seen in "Kill Bill, Vol. 2"), Buck Henry, Christopher McDonald (last seen in "Unforgettable"), with a cameo from John Carroll Lynch.

RATING: 6 out of 10 dented garbage cans

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