Four totally different and separate stories of guests staying at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Diane Barrie (Dame Maggie Smith) and Sidney Cochran (Sir Michael Caine) come from England to attend the Oscars; Hannah Warren (Jane Fonda) comes from New York City, Bill Warren (Alan Alda) is her ex who lives in California; in the slapstick part, Dr. Willis Panama (Bill Cosby), Dr. Chauncey Gump (Richard Pryor), and their wives come to the hotel to relax and play tennis, only to find there is only one room vacant; in the fourth segment, Marvin Michaels (Walter Matthau) arrives a day before his wife for his nephew's Bar Mitzvah, while his brother Harry (Herb Edelman) sends a prostitute to his room. —Jonathan (firstname.lastname@example.org)
A not-so-sweet valentine to coupling...
Neil Simon received an Oscar nomination for adapting his own hit play to the screen, though his writing seems to be caught in a perpetual time-warp. No subject discussed seems fresh, and all his one-liners and tiresome penchant for name-dropping would fall flat without the help of some talented actors to keep things afloat. Hotel in Beverly Hills houses Jane Fonda and Alan Alda as bickering ex-marrieds; Walter Matthau as a husband trying to hide a hooker from wife Elaine May; Michael Caine as the put-upon husband of Oscar-nominated actress Maggie Smith (who really did win an Oscar); and Bill Cosby and Richard Pryor as accident-prone husbands vacationing with their wives. Aside from the acidic verbal jousting from Caine and Smith (in the film's best episode), this comedy directed by Herbert Ross pretty much congeals midway through. Matthau's exaggerated angst is funny, but this seems rote material for the actor (though he and Elaine May are well-matched as ever). Fonda easily upstages Alda after changing into her bikini (her figure is so fabulous, one gets the feeling the actress may have accepted her dim role for the sole excuse to show it off). The Cosby-Pryor segment is a slapstick torpedo. Overall, there's too much physical shtick and not enough humanity in "California Suite" to make it the sophisticated laugh-fest Simon buffs were touting it as. **1/2 from ****
- Mar 31, 2007
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