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It has been seventeen years now since Oscar and Felix saw each other for the last time. Oscar is living in Florida, Felix in New York. One day, Oscar is called by his son Brucey who invites him to his wedding to Felix' daughter Hannah next Sunday in California. Oscar and Felix meet again at Los Angeles International Airport and take a rental car in order to go to San Malina for the wedding. The trip develops into an odyssey, starting with Oscar forgetting Felix' suitcase at the Budget station, going over to the complete loss of the directions (and the car), several difficulties with the police, a dead person, a toupee, underwear and revenge-hungry Cowboys and ending up with Felix meeting the "one and only" woman. But the wedding has to be reached on time. Written by
Julian Reischl <email@example.com>
Mary Beth Peil "Felice" and Christine Baranski "Thelma" would be teamed up eleven years later as costars of the hit CBS series "The Good Wife". See more »
Upon finally reaching the wedding in San Malina Felix is yelling at his ex-wife. He claims not to have seen her in half a century fifty years. Their daughter's got to be in her late twenties or mid thirties. See more »
When a film's first sequel isn't made until thirty years after its original, one can faintly assume the project was a brainchild of desperate executes and equally desperate actors, both of whom in dire need of a paycheck. The Odd Couple II has "profit margin" and "modern comedy" written all over it, and plays drastically different instruments than the Gene Saks' film I regarded as "a masterwork of comedic timing and actors showcasing their energy and talents on screen." That film focuses its sites entirely on leisurely-paced, rather than the breathless array of antics and screwball comedy that many comedies of the time used.
So, what would you expect a sequel to the original Odd Couple film made in 1998 focus mostly on? As did I, sight-gags, comedy based on the inanity of events, and louder, broader instances of trouble rather than the quietly reserved humor based on dialog and setting that existed in the first film. To my surprise, however, was how much I liked The Odd Couple II. It's the definition of slight, doesn't do much in regards to a long-term impact, and it will certainly not be held by me as any masterwork. But as a final showcase of two amazing screen talents and the equivalent of a cinematic light-snack, I'll most certainly take it with a simple grin.
Lemmon and Matthau reprise their roles as the neurotic Felix and the often careless and messy Oscar, respectively, this time taking part on a road trip through the confusingly-named towns of California because Oscar's son is planning to wed Felix's daughter. When both men meet at the airport, this is their first sight of each other in seventeen years (or, since the events of the first film), and both haven't changed much at all. When we see Oscar still resides in a cluttered, messy home (only this time in Florida) playing poker with a new band, this time predominately older women, and Felix still uses his loud, obnoxious technique of clearing his sinuses as he is allergic to everything, we see that we, the audience, may have changed but these guys haven't.
After both take separate flights to California, they must get to San Malina in time for the big wedding. But after taking the completely opposite highway, losing their car, among a series of other events straight out of the unwritten book of road trip hijinks, the trip is made into an unbelievably long, convoluted state of affairs that test both men in ways they never thought possible.
Unsurprisingly, Lemmon and Matthau make the most out of this hit and miss material. Again, I was taken by their random conversations and simple talking points they'd bring up while walking aimlessly throughout the desert. I was amused by their snappy wordplay during calamitous instances. And finally, it was wonderful to see such energy among two great character actors. Here are two men just a few years away from their deaths and they're acting with more energy and vigor than those half their age. Consider Felix's tyrannical rant at Oscar in the desert before ultimately destroying their only means of transportation. I think I'd get winding trying to repeat that, but Lemmon does it with no hesitation.
Coming off of both Grumpy Old Men films, two pictures that still possess elements of escapism and realism, The Odd Couple II doesn't seem to quite hold up in that respect. The film plays like the second sequel to the series, but with more emphasis on screwball situations than conversational banter. I was kind of shocked when I saw writer Neil Simon wrote the film after writing the original picture to be the direct opposite from what this project would turn out to be. This only fuels my thoughts that this film was made for the money rather than the idea that more could be done with Felix and Oscar. The Odd Couple II provides for nice, passing entertainment (and works better than Lemmon and Matthau's previous effort Out to Sea), but it leaves one with the lingering question, "was it really necessary?"
Starring: Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. Directed by: Howard Deutch.
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