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The Out of Towners could have easily been called The Empty Nesters, or perhaps The Empty Plotters.
Goldie Hawn and Steve Martin play Alice and Henry, a husband and wife of 27 years who's last child, (he's in his twenties) is tearfully sent off to Europe early in the film. He's not crying, they are, or are likely to. Anyway the parents flinch and then head off from their hick home town in Ohio to New York.
Henry has a job interview to attend and we all know what middle aged, middle order executives looking for a job might run in to, at least in an intelligent script written properly for the nineties.
The Out Of Towners was based on a screenplay penned by Neil Simon in the early 70's. The story has been re written for this version but it seems that the comedy slant was firmly in the sights of the producers. The plot was therefore left high and dry. It needed a much heavier rewrite.
Henry and Alice have both been in advertising, but Alice has given the game away while she's been mothering the children. Henry is tired and a bit dowdy. It would be expected that a truly modern script would have found Alice moving back into her old career and Henry taking on home duties.
Henry says as much in the film! Their daughter has also been accruing horrendous credit card debts on cash stricken Dad's card. This is glossed over in happy land Hollywood. And what's to become of Alice? She's lost for a career.
So this emasculated script is left to flounder and to rely on a good deal of slapstick. Neil Simon's clever dialogue is largely gone, and the plot is without depth.
We're left with a good deal of arm flapping, particularly from Goldie Hawn. As I write this, The First Wives Club (much, much funnier than The Out Of Towners) is on TV in the same room and there's Goldie again, arms a flapping, bum a poutin'.
If there's a chair either Henry or Alice will fall over it, and as is the way these days, if there's a buffoon sidekick, he'll be gay.
But still, except for it's contrived, energetic humour, which some patrons will enjoy immensely, The Out Of Towners does work reasonably well. There are one or two warm smiles, and perhaps a laugh or two, but really a bit more heart and common sense and a dose of plot credibility would have been an advantage.
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