31 July 2006 | theowinthrop
Two For The Road...and Cut.
It is hard to believe it was only eight years ago that this, the last of the Lemmon and Matthau (or Matthau and Lemmon) films was made, and within four years both stars would be gone. One only wishes that their last film together had been more of a success. They had done first rate sequels before with GRUMPIER OLD MEN, but that film had been done within two years of GRUMPY OLD MEN, and a natural momentum carried the stars (and supporting casts) to the finish line. That is not the case with THE ODD COUPLE II. It came out thirty years after the original THE ODD COUPLE, and while they are reunited with the play's creator (Neil Simon) on the screenplay, the momentum - the push - is lacking.
Not that this is a boring film. Far from it. We always wondered how Oscar Madison and Felix Unger would have behaved as elderly men. Of course, Felix looked like he and Gloria were going to settle their differences and return together in the first play/movie. Indeed, in the television series Tony Randall did get back to his wife. But here it is obvious it did not work at all. Both men have remained divorced, and both men remain essential the same: Felix the compulsively organized neatnik and Oscar the incorrigible slob. They also have given each other a wide birth if possible. But they find themselves drawn back into mutual orbit. Oscar's son is getting married - and to Felix's daughter. So the pair are headed for the wedding, and that means jointly showing up.
What happens is a series of joint misadventures on the way to the wedding, especially involving two rather fun young women that they meet (Christine Baranski and Jean Smart) with their jealous boyfriends. This leads to several, increasingly odd, run-ins with the sheriff of a small town they can't seem to successfully leave. Indeed, in one case they get a lift out of town in a beautiful white classic Rolls Royce, which moves more slowly than a pair of people on bicycles.
The situations are all quite amusing. But the unity of the film is not there - it is like a series of skits involving Felix and Oscar, that are vaguely united because the two characters are familiar to us, and they are supposed to get to the wedding. Still the two stars give it their all, and with Baranski, Smart, and the late Bernard Hughes it works well enough as an entertainment. But for me, the wackiness and variety of OUT TO SEA make that film a better final film for the pair.