During a high profile Mafia testimony case in California's Riverside County, a hired killer checks-in a hotel room near the courthouse while his next door depressed neighbor wants to commit suicide due to marital problems.
John and Max are elderly men living next door to each other. They're continuously arguing and insulting each other, and have been this way for over 50 years. One day, Ariel, moves into the street. Both men are attracted to her, and their rivalry steps up a gear.Written by
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Mr. Gustafson! I have to talk to you! Mr. Gustafson, will you answer the door, please? I know you're in there! It's no use pretending this isn't happening, Mr. Gustafson! I can't keep coming... back here every couple of days! You have to talk to me! Mr. Gustafson, I'm just trying to help you! Come on and open the door! I'll just keep knocking! I'll come back, so you might as well answer the door! I know you're in there! Think of the neighbors, Mr. Gustafson! There's a letter for ...
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The opening credits in this film roll to the tune of "Heat Wave", and it was during a recent heat wave that I dusted off my well-worn copy of "Grumpy Old Men" and settled in to once again watch the first of four movies that made up the "second coming" of the Jack Lemmon/Walter Matthau team. To those who have not yet seen the movie, (yes, there may be a few) it was set (and filmed) in snowy Minnesota, which give the film an authentic small town feel that the talented set designers of Hollywood would be hard pressed to duplicate. From the stars' first lines in the film ("'Morning ****head", "Hello moron") we know what to expect, and the movie doesn't disappoint us. The verbal sparring between Max and John continues non-stop through 100+ laugh filled minutes. Both the plot and the ending are not quite believable, but who really cares? For those who want reality, there are many depressing films out there, not to mention the news- papers and CNN. I have never read if all the cast members were the first choices for the parts, but every one of the cast fits their roles perfectly. Ann-Margret has evolved from her dancing, grinding "sexpot" image in the 60's to a wonderful, natural actress. Burgess Meredith....what can I say? He's perfect as John's father, a crusty, lovable old man. The interplay between Jack and Burgess is so easy, and why not? Who better to play a 94 year old than the 80+ year old Meredith. While Burgess is lovable, Daryl Hannah is lovely. As John's daughter Melanie, I have never seen her look more beautiful and heart-melting as she does in this picture. Ozzie Davis, Kevin Pollak, and Buck Henry round out the cast, and bring their many talents to the picture. While much has been written about the comedy, very little is said about the realistic side of "Grumpy Old Men". There are a few fleeting scenes that reveal the heartache and loneliness of growing old. And John's dealings with the I.R.S. in the movie, while hilarious, points out what can happen when the machine-like IRS process starts to roll over an individual not caring about the human-real life side of the situation. The only "downer" for me in again watching this movie is the knowlege that the string is over. Walter and Jack and Burgess are gone. I can't watch this movie without feeling just a tinge of sorrow. When most actors their age pass on, we feel sorrow, and then watch their classics from decades ago. With Walter and Jack the best was yet to come. I have read elsewhere that scripts were in the works for "Grumpy Old Men 3" and "Odd Couple 3". Who knows how many more successful films this brilliant team could have made together. I doubt if the formula for their success would have grown stale, because both Walter and Jack no longer acted....their roles where just an extension of themselves.
Whether it be Grumpy or Grumpier Old Men, "Odd Couple II", or "Out to Sea" we were as much visiting with old friends as we were watching a movie. Old friends get more endearing with age, and we would have never tired of new visits from them, no matter what the role. Burgess, Jack, and Walter.....wherever you are...thanks for the laughs you've given us over the years. You made us feel good, which is the best epitaph anyone could wish for.
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