Reviewed by GREG KING
Director: Martha Coolidge
Stars: Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Brent Spiner, Dyan Cannon, Gloria De Haven, Elaine Stritch, Hal Linden, Donald O’Connor, Edward Mulhare, Rue McClanahan, Alexandra Powers, Sean O’Bryan
Running Time: 106 minutes.
Having appeared together in a number of movies over the past three decades, Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, the screen’s original odd couple, have established a wonderful rapport that enlivens even the most mediocre comedy. Their easygoing style and relationship is immediately obvious in Out To Sea, their latest screen pairing.
In this amusing cross between Grumpy Old Men and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, the pair play a couple of lonely old men who land a job on a cruise ship posing as dance hosts. Unlucky gambler Charlie (Matthau) hopes to meet some wealthy widows, while his brother-in-law Herb (Lemmon) is a little more reluctant to become involved in the foolish scheme.
The pair immediately run afoul of Godwyn (Star Trek‘s Brent Spiner), the obsequious cruise director, who is desperate to ensure that everything runs smoothly on his ship. Matthau pursues the beautiful Liz (Dyan Cannon), but he has a rival in the urbane and very rich Carswell (Edward Mulhare, from the Knight Rider tv series). Meanwhile, the recently widowed Lemmon falls for Vivian (Gloria De Haven), a widow who is accompanying her daughter and son-in-law on their anniversary holiday.
It’s a little surprising to see a Hollywood romantic comedy featuring septuagenarians rather than self indulgent twentysomethings. Martha Coolidge (Rambling Rose, etc) maintains the light weight tone of the material throughout, and she sensibly allows her two stars plenty of room to manoeuvre. Matthau and Lemmon obviously have a lot of fun here, and, once again, their contrasting personalities provide much of the film’s humor. Matthau moves with all the grace of a wounded elephant, and the scene where he “trips the light fantastic” on the ship’s dance floor is precious. The final credit sequence features some choice out-takes and gaffes; many are hilarious little gems that provide wonderful insights into the relationship between the two stars.
Cast against type, Spiner has a lot of fun sending up his own image as our heroes’ worst nightmare – a song and dance man raised on a military base – and his scene-stealing performance is one of the highlights of Out To Sea. Coolidge has fleshed out the cast with seasoned veterans like Donald O’Connor (Singing In The Rain, etc), Elaine Stritch, Barney Miller‘s Hal Linden, and Golden Girls‘ Rue McClanahan, who all seem to revel in the material.