Grumpy Old Men

"Good"

Grumpy Old Men Review


Grumpy Old Men, directed with general disinterest by Donald Petrie, is 100 minutes of Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon pulling pranks, calling each other names, complaining and falling in love with Ann-Margret. I am suitably entertained by these things. Whether or not you are will be the deciding factor of what you think of what is ostensibly a geriatric Odd Couple.

Milking a 50-odd year rivalry, John Gustafson (Lemmon) and Max Goldman (Matthau), for reasons where logic dare not tread, live right next to each other in suburban Minnesota. Their lives hinge on very few things: Their kids, fishing, grandkids, fishing, evading tax collectors, fishing, and going to the bait shop to talk with Charlie (Ossie Davis) about fishing. That is when they aren't being a royal pain in each other's asses.

This all changes when Ariel (Ann-Margret) moves in across the street, complete with outside sauna and ski-mobile. This red-haired, finely aged temptress re-invigorates both men and their playful hijinks while also stirring up the event that caused their falling-out all those decades ago. Egged-on by Gustafson's wily father (Burgess Meredith) and Charlie, the two men battle for Ariel's affections as if youth itself were the reward.

"None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm," Thoreau once said, and that is exactly what powers Petrie's blatantly episodic film. Scarcely more than the aforementioned elderly update, Grumpy Old Men is a showcase for how a comedic pairing can hold up over the years and neither Lemmon nor Matthau act as if they're a day past their respective 1970s pinnacles. 16 years after the film's initial release and countless midnight airings on TBS past, I still can't help but giggle at Matthau saying "eat my shorts" or Lemmon's dance as he makes a post-coital breakfast of eggs and Tabasco.

What ruins the fun is the prattling need for structure outside the central rivalry. The most heinous of these distractions would be Gustafson's daughter (Daryl Hannah) and her troubles with her on-again-off-again husband (Christopher McDonald). The appearance of the latter would seem to be a major factor leading to the near-tragedy that typifies the last stretch of the film. There's also some nonsense about Gustafson owing the town thousands of dollars that he doesn't have and Goldman's son (Kevin Pollak) running for mayor.

There aren't many great comedy duos anymore. Perhaps Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly would qualify? The thought of the two foul-mouthed manbabies replicating their bit in their later years certainly makes one chuckle. Of course, the Lemmon-Matthau chemistry wasn't bulletproof: Check out the laughless Out to Sea. Yet, in Grumpy and its similar sequel Grumpier Old Men, the chemistry between the feuding curmudgeons provides a merciful aside from the absolute mess of lazy direction and tired scripting that hides beneath it. That we are now stuck without them is no laughing matter whatsoever.



Facts and Figures

Run time: 103 mins

In Theaters: Saturday 25th December 1993

Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures

Production compaines: John Davis, Lancaster Gate, Warner Bros.

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 65%
Fresh: 24 Rotten: 13

IMDB: 6.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Richard C. Berman,

Starring: as John Gustafson, as Max Goldman, as Ariel Truax, as Grandpa Gustafson, as Melanie, Kevin Pollak as Jacob Goldman, as Chuck, as Snyder, as Mike, as Moving Man

Contactmusic


Links


Advertisement

New Movies

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.