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(1998) (Walter Matthau, Jack Lemmon) (PG-13)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
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Mild None Minor None Heavy
Smoking Tense Family
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Comedy: Two old friends, and former roommates, irritate each other with their contrasting behaviors as they try to get to their kids' marriage.
Thirty years after first meeting and becoming roommates, Felix Ungar (JACK LEMMON) and Oscar Madison (WALTER MATTHAU) meet again in California for the wedding of Felix's daughter, Hannah (LISA WALTZ) to Oscar's son, Brucey (JONATHAN SILVERMAN). Although it's been seventeen years since they last spoke, Felix -- the fastidious one who lives in New York and volunteers at the local hospital -- and Oscar -- the slob who's retired in Florida and spends his time playing poker with his pals -- still immediately irritate each other.

Just hours after leaving the airport, the two find themselves without a car and lost somewhere in the California desert. Several hours from their destination, the two set out to do whatever it takes to see their kids get married. Along the way, they meet two disgruntled wives, Thelma (CHRISTINE BARANSKI) and Holly (JEAN SMART), and a variety of other characters as they try to get to the wedding on time.

If they're fans of Matthau and Lemmon (and the many films they've been in, including the "Grumpy Old Men" series), or of the original movie or TV show, they might. It's doubtful, however, that many kids will be rushing out to see this film.
For brief strong language.
  • JACK LEMMON plays an older man who curses some, but mainly serves to unknowingly irritate his old friend and former roommate with his fastidious behavior.
  • WALTER MATTHAU also plays an older man whose gruff demeanor and slobbish ways likewise irritate Felix.


    OUR TAKE: 3 out of 10
    When you hear the title, "The Odd Couple," the first thing that pops in most people's minds is the popular 1970's TV show that featured Tony Randall and Jack Klugman as the roommates whose contrasting lifestyles and behavior provided much of the show's humor. What many don't know is that the TV show was based on the original 1968 film, that itself originated from Neil Simon's award-winning Broadway play.

    Featuring Walter Matthau -- who reprised his role from the stage -- and Jack Lemmon -- who replaced Art Carney -- the film was a big hit and was one of the first times these two actors worked together as a comedic team. While this release marks their tenth cinematic pairing, today's audiences are most familiar with the two for their "Grumpy Old Men" movies and last year's "Out To Sea," where they essentially played the same characters, but with different names.

    Well, they might as well have named this film "The Grumpy Old Odd Couple" because they've just carried what's become their signature character pieces back into this film. As the old saying goes, familiarity breeds contempt, and while we could probably never grow to dislike these two guys -- they're Matthau and Lemmon after all -- their recent overexposure has certainly made their grumpy men routine repetitive and boring.

    Beyond the fact that we've grown tired of these two essentially playing the same characters, the bigger problem here is that the movie just isn't that funny. While a few moments might elicit a chuckle or two, Simon (who also wrote this screenplay) and director Howard Deutch (who also directed "Grumpier Old Men," and "Pretty In Pink" and "Some Kind of Wonderful" in the 1980's) have bottomed out looking for laughs.

    Using harsh profanity, having the two get sprayed by a crop duster, and having Lemmon throw a bucket of ice water against a closed window are just a few of their desperate, but unsuccessful attempts at humor. Of course if you like Matthau's one-liners, such as him responding to a comment that a person should "lay down a bunt," by saying, "He couldn't lay down a carpet," or commenting on a batter over swinging, "At least he's cooling down the place," you might enjoy the movie. Then again, the picture's lightweight and whimsical comedic score -- apparently covering for the lack of humor in the script -- may just be a little too force fed to your liking.

    Another problem is that the "odd couple" material -- humor originating from Felix's fastidious behavior directly contrasting with Oscar's slobbish qualities -- while effectively funny in the original and the TV series, dries up quite early in the movie. Although we start with Felix and his allergies (accompanied by his trademark nasal clearing "pha-nah!" sound), and some other behavior occasionally surfaces here and there, there are other times where its absence is quite obvious.

    Why doesn't Felix doesn't react to Thelma and Holly smoking, and how come he isn't obsessively paranoid about being covered with crop dusting spray? There are so many moments that don't play off this old standard that it's quite surprising until one realizes they're just back to inhabiting Max Goldman and John Gustafson -- the grumpy old men (who, of course, we're somewhat initially modeled after the two as Oscar and Felix).

    A personal gripe I had with the movie (that you may or may not share depending on your age) is that although Matthau and Lemmon originated the characters (at least in the original movie), I just don't buy Lemmon now as the prissy Felix. For me, there's only one Felix Ungar and that's Tony Randall. Lemmon no longer has the right look nor the believable behavior to play this guy, and Randall has since made that role undeniably his. I can buy Matthau in the role, what with his constant rumpled look and gruff demeanor, but Lemmon just doesn't work and his (brief) efforts at being fastidious seem forced and unnatural. Perhaps that's why Deutch reverted back to the Grumpy material.

    This is also another example of a movie aimed at older audiences who might be taken aback by the profanity, especially coming from Lemmon. While Burgess Meredith's character was funny doing that in the "Grumpy" movies (playing a sharp-tongued rapscallion), it's not funny here and only serves to get the movie a PG-13 rating. What the filmmakers don't realize is that they won't scare away teens from watching this movie with a "lower" rating simply because that group won't be interested in the first place. Older audiences, however, couldn't care less if the movie was rated G and probably would appreciate that more than seeing Lemmon using the "f" word.

    You can't overly fault Matthau and Lemmon for this film turning out to be a big disappointment. Beyond the fact that they didn't demand a better script from Simon, they certainly give it their best shot and are as engaging as ever. Additionally, had it not been for their recent and multiple cinematic appearances together, the novelty factor alone would have made this film worth seeing. Unfortunately, their routine is wearing a bit thin and the film just isn't that funny. If you like Matthau, Lemmon, and that routine (such as in their last film, "Out To Sea"), then you might like this film. If, however, you only have a passing interest in them, you might want to see what else is playing at the multiplex. We give "The Odd Couple II" just a 3 out of 10.

    Although it's questionable how many kids will want to see this film, many older viewers just might. They'll be surprised then, by the strong, but limited profanity that occurs (for instance, 2 "f" words from Lemmon's character). There's also a pointless inclusion of some material involving two upset husbands who stop a tour bus at gunpoint and then essentially take Oscar and Felix hostage until they're stopped at a police roadblock. Granted, all of that and the rest of the material is meant to be humorous, but that's really up to your individual funny bone. Beyond the standard bickering between the two characters, most of the other categories have little or no objectionable material. Even so, you might want to look through the material should you or someone in your family wish to see this PG-13 rated film.

  • Felix has a martini and Oscar has a double Scotch in a bar where others also drink, including Thelma and Holly who drink beer. After the bar stops serving drinks, Thelma pulls out her own bottle of liquor.
  • People drink champagne/wine at a wedding.
  • None.
  • Oscar and Felix bicker back and forth at each other, but in something of an irritated, friendly fashion.
  • Oscar makes a few jokes about an older man who has just died while driving them to the wedding (noticing that the man's hairpiece is gone, he comments "He's already starting to decompose" etc...).
  • Thelma and Holly have become fed up with their husbands and have hit the road with half of their money. The husbands then later show up, stop a bus at gunpoint, and essentially take Oscar and Felix hostage (in a comical way) until the police stop them.
  • Some viewers may find a scene where Thelma and Holly's husbands stop a bus (that's carrying their wives as well as Oscar and Felix) at gunpoint as a little tense.
  • Handguns: Aimed at Felix and Oscar by the police as they're arrested (due to misunderstandings) on several occasions.
  • We hear a gunshot and then see a dead crow fall onto a car.
  • Handguns: Held by Thelma and Holly's husbands as they stop a bus and "retrieve" their wives.
  • Phrases: "Shut the 'f' up," "Sh*thead," "Pain in the ass," "Schmuck," "Idiots," "Creeps," "Geez," "Geezers" and "Wimp."
  • When Felix tells Oscar to pull over, Oscar suddenly crosses many lanes of traffic, causing other cars to swerve out of the way.
  • Oscar gives Felix "the finger" from across the highway during an argument.
  • Thelma and Holly's husbands stop a bus at gunpoint.
  • None.
  • One scene has just a moment of suspenseful music in it.
  • None.
  • 2 "f" words, 3 "s" words, 18 hells, 5 damns, 4 asses (1 using "hole"), and 7 uses of "Oh my God," 6 of "Oh God," 5 uses of "G-damn," 2 of "God" and 1 use each of "Oh Jesus," "Jesus" and "My God" as exclamations.
  • Oscar asks a friend after starring at a younger woman's body, "Don't you look at a good ass anymore?"
  • As Oscar tells a sheriff about dropping cigar ashes on his crotch, Felix chimes in "It's the first time he's been hot down there in years."
  • Holly's outfit shows some cleavage.
  • Talking about a possible "encounter" with Thelma and Holly, Felix asks, "Have you ever stopped to think about what we could get?'' Oscar replies, "Lucky is what comes to mind."
  • When a dead man slumps down into Felix's lap, Oscar says, "That's not a good position because it looks like..." and Felix jumps in, "I know what it looks like."
  • Oscar smokes a cigar once and has an unlit one in another scene.
  • Holly and Thelma smoke.
  • There's some brief talk about Oscar and Felix's failed marriages.
  • Longstanding friendships.
  • Getting along with people who are different from you (for example, the slob Oscar and the obsessively clean Felix).
  • Felix hits their car in anger, causing it to roll down a hill where it explodes after crashing at the bottom.
  • Thelma and Holly's husbands stop a bus (at gunpoint) that's carrying their wives as well as Oscar and Felix.
  • Felix tries to strangle Oscar and has to be pulled away by police officers (all in a comical tone).

  • Reviewed March 17, 1998

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