10 November 2009 | moonspinner55
Unfulfilled comedic and dramatic quirks result in a peculiarly benign film...
One of Jack Lemmon's most innocuous pictures. He plays a professional humorist in New York City, a cynic and confirmed bachelor quickly losing his eyesight, who thinks very little of marriage, women and dogs. How soon do you think it will be before bookstore manager (and marriage-minded divorcée) Barbara Harris gets him to the altar? She's got the dog, plus three kids and a puppy dog-like former husband, but what's in it for Lemmon? We are never sure what motivates him to take on this brood, to attempt winning over the children, to compete for attention with the ex-spouse. It isn't incredible that Jack should fall for Miss Harris (she's winsome and a little daft, despite an ugly hairdo), but it is fairly difficult to believe Lemmon's character would take this plunge--and there's nothing in the script to convince us otherwise. The production is colorful, the animation interesting (if not amusing) and the acting very fine (particularly by young Lisa Gerritsen), however the essence of a plausible story is missing. Based on the writings of James Thurber, screenwriters Danny Arnold (who also produced) and Melville Shavelson (who also directed) shift from satire to the more outré, silly kind of TV comedy without grounding the scenario in a bittersweet style of realism. As such, the movie is one-part comedy (with satirical inflections), one-part drama (with pathos) and one-part character study (disguised as a family's journey). It isn't any wonder the end results are cute, yet iffy. Shavelson, Arnold and Gerritsen had all previously tackled Thurber on the short-lived television series "My World and Welcome To It". **1/2 from ****