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(1999) (Steve Martin, Goldie Hawn) (PG-13)

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Comedy: A long-married, but passion-impaired couple rediscover life and themselves while trying to deal with the fact that everything that could wrong with a simple business trip to New York does so.
Henry (STEVE MARTIN) and Nancy Clark (GOLDIE HAWN) have been married for more than twenty years, although their passion for one another has long since evaporated due to familiarity and everyday events such as paying the mortgage and sending their son, Alan (OLIVER HUDSON), off to college.

Henry, a meticulous advertising executive, has recently been laid-off -- a fact he's kept secret from his wife -- but has an important job interview in New York. Nancy -- who suddenly realizes she's residing over a now empty nest -- decides to surprise Henry by suddenly accompanying him to that interview.

As they set off on their trip from Ohio to the Big Apple, things immediately go wrong and a series of travel-related calamities befall them. Their plane is diverted to Boston, they lose their luggage, get lost and even get mugged. When they finally try to check into their posh hotel, the aristocratic manager, Mr. Mersault (JOHN CLEESE), refuses to serve them since their sole remaining credit card has been maxed out by their daughter.

Desperate for lodging and food, Nancy even fakes trying to seduce Greg (MARK McKINNEY), one of the hotel's guests, but that and a series of continuing mishaps threaten to foil their attempts to get Henry to his important interview the next morning.

If they're fans of Martin, Hawn or Cleese it's possible, but otherwise it's highly unlikely.
For some sex and drug-related humor.
  • STEVE MARTIN plays a conservative and passionless man who's recently been laid-off from his advertising executive job and has nearly given up on life. He does resort to some underhanded attempts to get food, nearly has sex with Nancy outdoors in Central Park, and in one scene unknowingly takes a hallucinogen that causes him to be high (and act goofy).
  • GOLDIE HAWN plays his wife who's grown tired of their passionless marriage and will try anything to return some zing to it. Due to their travel-related mishaps, she fakes seducing a man so that she and Henry can charge food to his room service bill and nearly has sex with Henry outdoors in Central Park.
  • JOHN CLEESE plays an aristocratic hotel manager who turns out to be a closet transvestite.


    OUR TAKE: 2 out of 10
    To paraphrase an old saying, "What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger." While that phrase is meant to suggest that life's adversities are, in essence, "toughening" agents and lessons about how to deal with later challenges, the filmmakers behind "The Out-Of-Towners" are trying to put a comedic, marriage-related spin on that belief.

    A remake of the 1970 Jack Lemmon/Sandy Dennis movie of the same name and basic plot, this film, however, will probably have most moviegoers wishing they could choose death rather than sit through this remarkably unfunny, boring and more than predictable excuse for entertainment.

    That's because director Sam Weisman ("George of the Jungle," "D2: The Mighty Ducks") and screenwriter Marc Lawrence ("Forces of Nature," "Life With Mikey") -- who are working from Neil Simon's original script -- have taken a moderately decent premise and run it through an "idiot filter," thus removing most of its humor and replacing it with some rather lame and otherwise inane material.

    Delivering a script about "doomed" travelers for the second time in three weeks -- the other being the Sandra Bullock/Ben Affleck vehicle, "Forces of Nature" -- Lawrence seems to have a thing for such plots. While that film was at least moderately entertaining and worked due to the leads, their performances, and the chemistry between them, this one is completely lacking in the same regards.

    Like "Forces of Nature" and its predecessor, "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" (that also starred Steve Martin) the film hopes to mine humor from travel-related calamities. Of course you can only get so much fresh material from that premise, so the filmmakers opted instead to include moments that are presumably supposed to be funny, but are anything but.

    As such, we get to see Martin climbing up an airport baggage carousel to talk to someone about their missing luggage, him sticking his arm inside a vending machine where his snack is stuck, and Goldie Hawn's character still believing that a mugger who just robbed them is the real Andrew Lloyd Webber. While some of that could be funny if properly handled -- such as a scene at a car rental desk that was hilariously portrayed in an episode of TV's "Seinfeld" but is bungled here -- the writing/directing team treats such material as if it were being readied for one of those lowest common denominator sitcoms that gets canceled after less than a year.

    Even a scene where Martin unknowingly takes a hallucinogen -- that allows him to act goofy and do some of his trademark physical humor -- isn't that funny and goes on way too long without overly compelling or even entertaining results. I've nearly always enjoyed most of Martin's films, including great or interesting ones like "Roxanne," "Leap of Faith" and "The Spanish Prisoner." Unfortunately, he's also appeared in a few duds -- some of them quite awful like "Sgt. Bilko -- and he's going to regret that this one will be added to that list.

    In fact, when the funniest thing about a Steve Martin movie is the performance by a supporting player, you know you're in trouble. That's especially true when that performance -- as delivered by John Cleese ("A Fish Called Wanda," "Monty Python and the Holy Grail") -- is relatively short and not particularly of the "roll in the aisles" type of funny. Limited to doing yet another take -- albeit considerably less inspired -- of his stick-in-the-mud paternal figure from the "The Father of the Bride" films, Martin can't do much with his role.

    Goldie Hawn ("The First Wives Club," "Death Becomes Her") is even less successful with her character. Playing the hybrid smart wife/dumb blond character, Hawn's performance is far more annoying than funny. Even the legendary John Cleese -- who clearly gets the best of the film's limited comedic material -- can't save the picture despite a scene where he struts around in drag to the tune of Donna Summer's "Hot Stuff."

    With more than its share of forced material, predictable moments and comedy impaired overacting, this film -- an odd choice for a remake considering the critical pounding the original received -- might be tolerable to the most die-hard fans of Martin, Hawn or Cleese.

    For the rest of us, however, it's an excruciating hour and a half in a darkened theater. When Hawn's character mentions that she wants to suck the marrow out of life, she's too late, for the film's already done that to us. We give "The Out-Of-Towners" -- a boring and particularly unfunny film -- a meager 2 out of 10.

    Here's a quick summary of the content found in this PG-13 rated comedy. We see an interrupted sexual encounter in a public park between two characters (played by Martin and Hawn) with a man between a woman's legs with his pants around his ankles, but don't see any nudity or explicit movement. Another scene involves some sexual talk -- involving masturbation, a nymphomaniac and Henry and Nancy's sex life -- in a sex therapy group meeting. We also learn that another character is a closet transvestite.

    A character gets high and is so through various scenes due to unknowingly taking a hallucinogen, while some social drinking also occurs. Several characters exhibit bad attitudes, including our protagonists as they try to get money and/or food, as well as two thieves who hold guns on them in separate scenes. Some mild slapstick style violence also occurs.

    Beyond some mild profanity that consists of nothing worse than what you'd hear on nighttime TV, the rest of the categories are relatively void of any major objectionable material. Nonetheless, you may want to take a closer look at what's been listed should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for anyone in your home.

  • Henry and Nancy have wine with dinner.
  • People drink beer in a hotel bar and one man buys Nancy a glass of champagne.
  • We see people with drinks at a reception.
  • A prisoner gives Henry what's presumably an aspirin, but we later see -- by Henry's wild actions -- that it was actually a hallucinogen of some sort.
  • Henry meets Nancy with a bottle of champagne.
  • We hear Henry peeing in the bushes.
  • Henry has some of both for not telling Nancy that he was laid-off.
  • A mugger robs Henry and Nancy at gunpoint after giving them a fake story about having lost his money.
  • We see a woman steal a piece of fruit from a fruit stand and Henry, who's hungry and doesn't have any money, nearly does the same but stops when the stand's owner catches him.
  • Hungry and penniless, Nancy sets out to make a man think she's seducing him so that she and Henry can later order room service on his tab and charge it to him.
  • We see two men who've been involved in some sort of crime and one briefly holds his gun on Henry and Nancy.
  • We hear that Nancy stole some money from others.
  • A large dog chases Nancy and then her and Henry, and while it's done for comedy, smaller kids might find it somewhat scary. The same may hold true for two similar scenes where lowlifes momentarily hold guns on the two, and one where Henry dangles from a hotel sign trying to climb from one balcony to the next.
  • Handguns: Used by a thief to rob Henry and Nancy and momentarily aimed at the two by another thief.
  • Phrases: "Bitch," "Jeez," "Busting my butt," "What the bloody hell," "Morons," "Nuts" (crazy) and "Screwed up."
  • Henry climbs up a baggage carousal's conveyer belt hoping to speak to someone about their missing luggage.
  • A person steals some fruit from a fruit stand and Henry nearly does the same.
  • Nancy and Henry climb from a hotel balcony to the one below them.
  • Having slept outside, Henry pees in the bushes after waking up (but gets arrested for doing so).
  • None.
  • None.
  • A song includes the lyrics "Why can't we be making love nice and easy..."
  • At least 3 damns, 2 asses, 2 hells and 20 uses of "Oh my God," 2 each of "Oh God" and "My God" and 1 use of "For God's sakes" as exclamations.
  • Nancy shows some cleavage in her nightgown as she prepares for a romantic interlude with Henry that doesn't happen.
  • Near her daughter's apartment, Nancy meets a woman dressed in a leather dominatrix outfit and briefly hears a man scream from inside her apartment causing her to say "You break that rack, you buy it."
  • Henry and Nancy stumble into a sexual therapy support group. They hear a man confess, "As you know, I've been masturbating up to seventeen times a day" who then goes on to say that he's been trying to transfer his sexual impulses to other forms of expression. They then hear about a woman who's been trying to cut down on her random sexual encounters that she has each week. When asked how she's done, she says that she was sick so that the only one she had was with her doctor. The therapist then asks the Clarks what brought them there and Nancy finally confesses that they don't "do it" that much anymore, and haven't had sex in two months. The nymphomaniac then says that she finds their problems boring and will have sex with someone right now. After a person asks if they've tried tying each other up with bamboo, Henry says no, that they use the club instead. The nymphomaniac then says, "I'd love to sleep with you Henry, I find failure very erotic..."
  • Hungry and penniless, Nancy sets out to make Greg think she's seducing him so that she and Henry can later order room service on his tab and charge it to him. As such, she unbuttons one button on her blouse while in the bar with him. She then seductively asks him if what she thinks is going to happen is going to happen and says that if it is, he'll be in for the wildest time of his life.
  • Henry tells Nancy, "You're like some cheap, tawdry sex machine."
  • Greg then shows up at his hotel room and Henry, just before hiding, says to Nancy "Don't let him..." (while holding out his hands as if cupping her breasts) and "Don't you..." (while holding out his hand as if she were cupping his genitals).
  • Greg tells Nancy that he loves the way she has with words that causes her to reply, "I've always been good with my mouth." Greg then says, "How about a little sample before I go?" as he momentarily pins her to the bed. She then tells him, "Don't start or I won't be able to stop." Later, Henry comments that this probably isn't the first time that someone seduced a hotel guest for sex.
  • We see that Mersault is a part-time transvestite.
  • After Nancy mentions that as her life passed before her eyes she though of her children, Henry asks, "What am I, the anonymous sperm donor?" Later, when comparing himself with other husbands he says, "Other husbands are getting drunk and having sex with eighteen-year-olds."
  • Nancy remembers when she and Henry stayed in a motel many years earlier "...and made love all night." Moments later, the two start making out in Central Park and when some lights are finally turned on, we (and many guests at a reception -- some of whom briefly show some cleavage) see him between her legs on the ground with his pants around his ankles and her moaning "Oh, Henry" (and them rolling around a bit, but without nudity or explicit movement). As they run away, he mentions that "Public fornication won't look good on my resume." Later, he mentions having sex there.
  • High from some hallucinogen that a prisoner gave him, Henry comments that Nancy "has a great ass. It's always there for me. It's been a wellspring of joy for me." Moments later and after spotting an attractive woman in the park, he chases after her and says, "Come on, Nancy, let's do her."
  • We see a silhouette of Henry (who's still high from the hallucinogen) in the shower as he runs a towel back and forth between his legs (like a stripper would).
  • A woman in a hallway smokes.
  • A few arguments -- most that are supposed to be funny -- occur between Henry and Nancy.
  • Long-term marriages where monotony and familiarity replace passion and romance.
  • Transvestites -- Mersault likes to dress in women's clothing.
  • Some slapstick material occurs including Nancy knocking over some flight attendants, her getting hit by another person's luggage, Henry being hit with luggage and tumbling down the baggage claim conveyer belt and Nancy driving through a loading dock area and knocking over tables and crates.
  • A man holds a gun on Henry and Nancy as he robs them.
  • Tiring of Greg complaining to him, Mersault pokes that man in the eye.
  • After Henry and Nancy inadvertently get into a cab with two robbers, one of them briefly holds a gun on them before it's knocked from his hand.

  • Reviewed April 2, 1999 / Posted April 2, 1999

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