Fox's other nautical summer release finds those grumpy old men definitely up to speed.
In "Out to Sea", old pros Jack Lemmon
and Walter Matthau
show why they're one of the screen's most enduring comedy teams, elevating would could have been "Love Boat: The Movie" to an amusing romp that ranks as the most satisfying of their recent pairings.
Of course, they get some able assist here from an all-AARP ensemble, including Donald O'Connor, Gloria DeHaven, Elaine Stritch
, Dyan Cannon
and the late Edward Mulhare
, as well as some nimble direction from Martha Coolidge.
Boxoffice-wise, this throwback of a romantic comedy should experience exceptionally smooth sailing.
This time around, Matthau is Charlie, a compulsive gambler (talk about playing it close to home) whose less-than-winning ways at the racetrack have definitely put a strain on his relationship with his bookie. Undaunted, he comes up with a new can't-miss scheme -- talking skeptical brother-in-law Herb (Lemmon) into joining him on a Caribbean cruise where the promise of lonely, wealthy women could solve his little cash flow problem.
What he has failed to inform Herb is that he has volunteered both of them as dance hosts in order to gain free passage, his two left feet notwithstanding. Twinkle-toes Herb ends up having to do all the work, as Charlie woos the very eligible Liz LaBreche (Cannon) while trying to avoid the highly suspicious gaze of cruise director Gil Godwyn (Brent Spiner).
To further complicate matters, devout widower Herb has unwittingly found romance with Vivian (a glorious DeHaven), a former publisher who has been "shanghaied" by her well-meaning daughter and new son-in-law.
It's refreshing to see so many actors of a certain age working together and so effectively in the same movie. Having performed with each other on-and-off for over 30 years, Matthau and Lemmon have developed a terrific shorthand that translates into funny even when tyro Robert Nelson Jacobs
' workable script isn't always up to snuff.
It also doesn't hurt to have O'Connor on board as a legitimate dance host (he naturally doesn't get away without strutting some of his famous stuff) or Stritch as Cannon's terminally feisty, gold-digging mom. Also doing fine work are DeHaven, Spiner, Rue McClanahan
as the ship's owner and Mulhare (in his last screen appearance) as Matthau's suave, high-stakes nemesis.
Serving as navigator, Coolidge gives everyone a chance to shine, while adeptly giving just the right weight to both the comedic and heartfelt moments. It's a tricky balancing act that, save for a few rough patches, succeeds admirably.
As a double added bonus, the end credits feature the various cast members in a very funny interpretive dance sequence, plus those ever-popular outtakes accompanied by a number of well-placed bleeps preserving that PG-13 rating.
OUT TO SEA
20th Century Fox
A Davis Entertainment Co. production
A Martha Coolidge
Director Martha Coolidge
Producers John Davis, David T. Friendly
Screenwriter Robert Nelson Jacobs
Executive producers Dylan Sellers
, Barry Berg
Director of photography Lajos Koltai
Production designer James Spencer
Editor Anne V. Coates
Music David Newman
Costume designer Jane Robinson
Casting Jackie Burch
Herb Jack Lemmon
Charlie Walter Matthau
Liz Dyan Cannon
Vivian Gloria DeHaven
Godwyn Brent Spiner
Mac Hal Linden
Jonathan Donald O'Connor
Carswell Edward Mulhare
Shelly Rue McClanahan
Running time -- 106 minutes
MPAA rating: PG-13