Joseph Kotcher, a retired traveling salesman, lives with his son Gerald and daughter-in-law Wilma in Los Angeles. He dotes upon his young grandson Duncan irritating high-strung Wilma to the... See full summary »
Joseph Kotcher, a retired traveling salesman, lives with his son Gerald and daughter-in-law Wilma in Los Angeles. He dotes upon his young grandson Duncan irritating high-strung Wilma to the point that she hires Erica, a high school student, as a regular babysitter to replace his efforts. However, Grandpa Kotcher still gets on her nerves, and she convinces Gerald to move him out. To humor his son he agrees to take an apartment at a retirement facility, but after being subjected to some psychological tests he opts instead to take an extended vacation, traveling up the coast by bus. Erica leaves town at the same time, for upon discovering she is pregnant, Wilma fires her and she is sent away to work in San Bernadino by her uptight older brother Peter, who is also her guardian. Grandpa Kotcher returns weeks later to find a Halloween party underway and his room full of Wilma's sewing stuff. A waiting card from Erica explains that due to "serious difficulties" she cannot repay some money he... Written by
Bittersweet film directed by Jack Lemmon features real-life pal Walter Matthau as an unwanted old codger in Southern California who befriends an unmarried, pregnant teenager. The film makes points on several topics (retirement homes, married life in suburbia, the value of the elderly), yet it doesn't use this material to build momentum--and since the film isn't a satire, the humor (often condescending or sarcastic) comes off as smirking. Matthau does a very fine job--he even convinces us he's a baby lover!--but his relationship with the troubled girl fails to ring true (Matthau's pinched, icy daughter-in-law is a worse matter--she's a one-note caricature). At one point, Kotch goes on a road trip by bus and sends back lots of postcards to his son, but director Lemmon doesn't use this segment to bolster the plot (it's too sitcom-like and, with that silly music, plays like a geriatric "Midnight Cowboy" besides!). Lemmon is careful not to flood the movie with teary sentiment; he's generally gracious and attentive, and many of his details are wonderfully wry. The film is likable enough, but overall seems a bit fatigued. **1/2 from ****
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