Neil Simon wrote this updated version of his 1972 Broadway play about a film agent's efforts to recombine the once famous comedy pair Lewis and Clark, played by Woody Allen and Peter Falk. Written by
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The original Broadway production of "The Sunshine Boys" by Neil Simon opened at the Broadhurst Theater in New York on December 20, 1972, ran for 538 performances and was nominated for the 1973 Tony Award (New York City) for the Best Play. See more »
The Sunshine Boys always struck me as a lesser Neil Simon comedy, amusing and likable but neither as funny nor as insightful as his best work. The original movie worked mainly because of a terrific cast. But this less well-cast and less well-directed TV remake exhibits all the flaws and none of the strengths of Simon's light work.
There are so many problems with this movie. Falk and Allen are too mismatched, with Falk overplaying to the point of annoyance and Woody underplaying to the point of putting me to sleep. They are both talented people, but they exhibit zero chemistry, and thus make no sense as an ex comedy duo. Walter Matthau and George Burns hated each other, but they also riffed off of each other. Falk and Allen feel not like people who worked together for decades but like people who met a week ago.
Sarah Jessica Parker isn't especially bad as Falk's niece/agent, but without the nervous energy of Richard Benjamin, her part just lays there, and she feels wildly unnecessary.
While many people here complain of Simon's rewrites, the truth is, the jokes from the first movie are mainly intact, and it's not Simon's fault that most of them fall flat the second time around. It is the listless direction and mismatched performances that sink this movie.
With the right cast, this movie could still work. But what's the point?
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