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California Suite
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Reviews & Ratings for
California Suite More at IMDbPro »

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21 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

A mixed bag

Author: mjtsmm2027 from London
12 December 2004

Having always felt that Neil Simon's work, though generally wonderful, can be hit and miss, California Suite seems to represent this more than any of his other pieces. Clearly he is a writer for performers and how well some of them respond here. Jane Fonda gives a remarkably assured and confident performance mixing vulnerability with stubbornness so effortlessly. Yes her segment is perhaps, stripped down, just the age old East/West Coast argument but it becomes a very human story about 2 people who were once in love. So great to see such a female character like hers on the screen and Jane Fonda is so skilled at introducing pathos whilst still being able to somewhat distance the viewer. It really is ultimately a very touching episode. The Caine/Smith segment is also tremendous fun with Dame Maggie doing her Margo Channing bit. The Oscar she won for this tributes her comic skills here which have perhaps been underused in her career. The wonderful Elaine May also stands out in a true farce with Mr Matthau but The Pryor/Cosby section is plainly, embarrassingly bad. It feels as if it was written by a poor sitcom writer and there are enoguh embarrassing sitcoms from America polluting the world's television. All in all, a very watchable film but wouldn't you just love to have the facility to edit films for your own viewing.

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17 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

Sunny, likable movie, with flaws

Author: sreed99342 from New York, NY
21 June 2004

I've always liked this movie, ever since I saw it in the theater as a 12-year-old. (With my church youth group, no less -- what were they thinking??) It's flawed, but generally fun, and I like the sun-soaked, palm-fringed atmosphere.

Maggie Smith is the undisputed standout. Her portrayal is brilliant and she and Michael Caine fling one-liners at each other with biting abandon. I've always liked both Jane Fonda and Alan Alda, so I enjoy their storyline too, though their exchanges seem forced and a little too clever. I'm a Cosby fan, but his scenes with Richard Pryor are uncomfortable -- it's troubling that the film's only black characters are relegated to brute physical comedy. Walter Matthau and Elaine May do a great job, but I never liked the hooker skit -- not sure why.

I buy very few films, but I do own this one, and over the years I've watched it so many times I know all the lines...

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13 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

My brief review of the film

Author: sol- from Perth, Australia
29 June 2005

An ensemble cast that dreams are made of is present in this film, and all deliver quite well, even Walter Matthau who goes a bit over-the-top. Smith deservedly won an Oscar for her role as a screen actress loses her first Oscar nomination in a very long career. As her husband, Caine is also good, but the next two best performances come from Fonda and Alda as a bickering divorced couple. Those four performers, however, only cover two out of four tales in this film, and the other two are not as well as acted and neither are they filled with the same quality of witty dialogue. It is bit weird to watch the overall film, as it becomes fragmented by the transitions between each of the stories, and towards the end the lesser interesting tales dominate. With just the Fonda/Alda and Smith/Caine stories, this is excellent, very well written stuff. With all four put together, it is still quite interesting stuff, but nothing too great.

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11 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Mediocre Simon is better than none...

7/10
Author: Isaac5855 from United States
8 December 2005

California SUITE is the 1978 film adaptation of Neil Simons' quartet of one-acts set at swank Los Angeles hotel. Out of the four stories, the strongest is "Visitors from London" which stars Maggie Smith as an actress in town for the Academy Awards after receiving her first nomination, in deep denial about her in-name only marriage to a closeted antique dealer (Michael Caine). Smith delivers a flawless comedy performance that ironically won her her second Oscar, this time for Best Supporting Actress. Caiine is just as effective in this bittersweet tale. "Visitors from New York" stars Jane Fonda as a workaholic New Yorker who has flown to California to retrieve her daughter (Dana Plato) who flew away from home to move in with Fonda's ex (Alan Alda). Fonda's character is a little on the unsympathetic side but she and Alda make their scenes work. "Visitors from Philadelphia" stars Walter Matthau as a man in town for a convention who tries to conceal from his visiting wife (Elaine May) that there's a passed out hooker in his bed. This episode is pure slapstick with little substance but Matthau makes it bearable. The other episode "Visitors from Chicago" stars Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor, Sheila Frazier, and Gloria Gifford as two couples vacationing together who get involved in some silly travel situations. This is definitely the weakest of the four playlets and looks like it should be in another movie of its own. A well-mounted, but spotty effort at best, California SUITE is worth the rental for the glorious performance of Maggie Smith alone.

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10 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Plain average

5/10
Author: Bjorn (ODDBear) from Iceland
13 August 2005

Four stories, courtesy of Neil Simon, concerning the ongoings of several people staying at a nice hotel in sunny California.

Walter Matthau's segment provides the film's only real laughs. Desperately trying to cover up his infidelity, Matthau is a riot in his attempts.

Bill Cosby and Richard Pryor try their best as doctor friends who are having an awful time on their vacation with their wives. It's just not that funny, despite them both being extremely likable.

Alan Alda and Jane Fonda do well in their dramatic story of separated couple meeting after nine years to discuss their child. Their segment is too short to really have an impact, might have worked well as a feature film. It's not all that involving.

Michael Caine and Maggie Smith are both excellent in their little segment, with Smith portraying an actress who's up for the academy award. Caine plays her show off gay husband. The two stars really shine in an otherwise average story, not all that interesting.

I feel that California Suite should have been much better, it had such potential. It's just plain average.

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11 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Too few scenes with Maggie Smith and Michael Caine

7/10
Author: Smartdoggy-1 from Germany
28 March 2005

I think the movie contains funny parts, but some scenes are not that interesting, for example Alan Alda talking way too much stuff. So I think it's only about average. I must say, though, that Michael Caine and Maggie Smith did great work. They are a nice couple and really fit together very well. In my opinion their scenes are the best of the movie. I love their funny and sarcastic conversations - it's entertaining and one of the reasons I actually watched the movie until the end. I'm just a little disappointed that they don't show up as often as I'd like. It would've been more interesting that way. Of course there are lots of other big names in that movie, e.g. Walter Matthau, Alan Alda and Jane Fonda, but I must really underline Maggie Smith's and Michael Caine's good performances.

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9 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

California Suite- A Sweetie of A Film ***1/2

8/10
Author: edwagreen from United States
17 September 2007

Neil Simon focuses his attention on a variety of people at a hotel in this 1978 comedy hit.

Walter Matthau certainly has a penchant as a hotel guest. Remember him with Maureen Stapleton and several other ladies in another hotel farce comedy-drama?

Matthau, as always, is hilarious when he attempts to hide a hooker from his wife. It seems that Elaine May is always the naive victim in films. Remember her in 1972's "The Heartbreak Kid?"

The real acting kudos here goes to Maggie Smith for a gem of a supporting Oscar-winning performance in this film. Smith plays an actress at the hotel who has been nominated for an Oscar. A win would mean a tremendous comeback for her. Naturally, she loses. How many people have won Oscars for playing an Oscar loser in a film? Judy Garland accomplished the opposite in 1954 in "A Star is Born." In the film she is an actress who wins the academy award but in real-life competition lost it to Grace Kelly for "The Country Girl." Only the lord knows why.

Smith is just grand as she prances around the room delivering memorable one-liners. This is just a gem of a film.

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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

One of the all-time worst comedies EVER.

2/10
Author: Josh Neufeld from Brooklyn, NY
11 January 2007

Nary a chuckle to be found in the whole excruciating 103 minutes. The film starts out okay with Fonda and Alda playing a divorced couple fighting over custody of their teenage daughter. There are some semi-amusing lines about the cultural differences between the East Coast and California. The Maggie Smith/Michael Caine plot line is vaguely interesting for a behind- the-scenes feel of the movie star life. But the Walter Matthau caught-with-a-hooker-in-the-hotel-room-bed shtick is clichéd and poorly played, while the Cosby-Pryor pairing as bickering vacationers is truly awful. "California Suite" is a total waste of a great cast, particularly Cosby & Pryor.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Un-Entertaining from Beginning to End

3/10
Author: jmillerdp from United States
10 January 2015

Jane Fonda plays a full-on, complete bitch in this movie. Which makes sense, since she is in real life! Yes, her hatred of our soldiers and her siding with the vicious North Vietnamese has made it so my stomach completely turns just at the sight of her.

But, Hollywood loves Fonda to death since she strongly reflects their "values," such as they are. Also, the film offers a "benefit" for Cosby haters. They will enjoy screaming at the TV whenever he appears! Alan Alda does his routine Alan Alda routine. Herb Edelman plays a seriously creepy, almost-borderline-pedophiliac guy in a track suit. Maggie Smith ironically plays an actress worrying about winning an Oscar, where she herself won an Oscar for being in this movie. Her performance is routine, but maybe 1978 was a slow year in her category.

Having a jazz score is a good idea, but it's more maudlin smooth jazz that belongs on Muzak than in a movie. Everything else in the movie is routine.

As with most of Neil Simon's work, there are few laughs. I only laughed during Walter Matthau's segment. And, that is because of Matthau being great, not because of Simon. The Pryor/Cosby segment is embarrassing, to put it mildly.

This Ken Levine dude on Turner Classic Movies (TCM), here in the United States, introduced this and other Neil Simon movies this month. He was a writer on M*A*S*H, no not Robert Altman's classic, but the TV series that Altman absolutely hated! That this introducer guy considers Simon great shows what his "taste" in comedy is! Luckily, this film isn't as flat-out awful as "Come Blow Your Horn" the 1963 absolute misfire with Frank Sinatra and Tony Bill.

"California Suite" is un-entertaining from beginning to end. Watch it, if you like that kind of thing!

*** (3 Out of 10 Stars)

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Worth it for one of the all-time great scenes

7/10
Author: blanche-2 from United States
7 December 2009

Neil Simon's 1978 film, California Suite, is four vignettes of couples descending upon Los Angeles at Oscar time: one couple (Maggie Smith and Michael Caine) for the Oscar ceremonies, two couples for vacation (Richard Pryor, Gloria Gifford, Bill Cosby, Sheila Frazer) one couple for a bar mitzvah (Walter Matthau and Elaine May), and one divorced couple (Alan Alda and Jane Fonda) to discuss their daughter.

The film is a mix of comedy, slapstick, and drama, with the Fonda-Alda segment witty but serious, the Matthau-May segment hilarious, the Cosby-Pryor segment slapstick, and the Smith-Caine segment a classic. Their conversation in the hotel suite before the Oscar ceremony is one of the best acted, best written scenes ever written. "I'm a dark horse," Smith says of her Oscar nomination, entering the room in a gown. "They must have seen the dress," Caine concludes. This is probably the most fully fleshed-out story, with the truth behind their marriage emerging as Smith descends into drunkenness later on. That and the Matthau-May vignettes are the best, with the Alda-Fonda scene coming off as somewhat dated today. The weakest is the Pryor-Crosby.

Entertaining - if you don't feel like watching the whole thing, just watch the Caine-Smith and Matthau-May.

Bill Cosby and Richard Pryor try their best as doctor friends who are having an awful time on their vacation with their wives. It's just not that funny, despite them both being extremely likable.

Alan Alda and Jane Fonda do well in their dramatic story of separated couple meeting after nine years to discuss their child. Their segment is too short to really have an impact, might have worked well as a feature film. It's not all that involving.

Michael Caine and Maggie Smith are both excellent in their little segment, with Smith portraying an actress who's up for the academy award. Caine plays her show off gay husband. The two stars really shine in an otherwise average story, not all that interesting.

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