Out Cold (1989) Poster


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Underrated, forgotten gem
Zev9 August 2003
Strangely panned by many critics yet this is actually a funny, black comedy about small-time accidents, coincidences, misunderstandings, failed scheming and murder amongst friends and spouses that has a lot more wit than the overrated Blood Simple. The plot is tight, the humor is delightfully droll and the next-door type characters are well-drawn and fun to watch despite their nastiness, simply because of the blackly amusing circumstances they find themselves in.

This did not deserve to become so obscure. Re-issue it on DVD please.
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Silly and dark farce; it got better as time passed
vchimpanzee21 June 2005
Ernie and Dave were butchers in the army (during the opening credits photos of them in their uniforms, along with Sunny, are shown). They open their own butcher shop, and Ernie is married to Sunny. Ernie is abusive, and Sunny is cheating on him. And the door to the freezer in the butcher shop keeps closing and locking when someone is inside.

John Lithgow is at his best playing nervous characters who panic over every little thing. Of course, in this movie his character has plenty of reason to be nervous, and it doesn't help that Sunny is hiding some very important information from him. Teri Garr is not only good-looking but comes across as quite calm and pretty much in control. Randy Quaid is quite goofy as the detective Sunny hires to help her divorce Ernie. Like Dave, the detective also thinks he knows something that we know isn't true, and the results can be quite funny.

This wasn't all that great at first, but as the situations got sillier, I was really enjoying it. I've seen better movies like this, but this was pretty good.
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Lots of spirit in ragged, messy black comedy whose tone wavers from scene to scene
moonspinner5523 June 2006
Low-budget dark comedy that goes in all directions yet does an early fade. Ex-Army buddies-turned-butcher shop partners argue over family business and one of them ends up dead; the first butcher mistakenly thinks he himself is the murderer...until his partner's widow starts acting suspiciously. Barely-released picture with a terrific cast does show spirit and promise; it has a quirky edge that is sometimes playful and sometimes prickly, but unfortunately nobody seems able to keep this movie on track, and the plot bursts like a balloon leaving nothing but dead space in the final third. The performers are very good, particularly John Lithgow and Bruce McGill, but the players, the direction and the script are not in synch. ** from ****
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Good cast, good plot, but rhythm is off
btm125 October 2012
The plot of "Out Cold" could have made a movie as funny as the 1950's era Alec Guinness/Ealing Studios comedies. But something didn't click for me in the way "Out Cold" was filmed. Most notably, the music was way off. Music and sound effects was a big part of the Guinness comedies. But in addition to the poor music choices and lack of comic sound effects, there were stretches that didn't seem to accomplish anything except take up time.

There is a twist at the end of "Out Cold" that is left for the viewer to interpret. Was Dave (John Lithgow) not the bumbling naif he seemed to be?
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What a brilliant, witty little film!
Vladimir_Grozescu10 July 2001
Warning: Spoilers
*********Minor spoiler contained below*********

This is easily one of my favorite ten movies.

The deadpan performances witty and quips between characters (the scene where Lester Atlas visits Dave at the butcher shop while he's trying to `dispose' of a corpse is absolutely hilarious!) are what make this movie shine. However, this kind of morbid humor is not for everyone, but to those of us who enjoy this brand of sick humor, enjoy!

"Out Cold" definitely deserves more credit than it's been given, and if you give it a chance, it won't disappoint you.

My Rating: Ten stars out of ten.

P.S. If you enjoyed Randy Quaid in "Out Cold", you might enjoy him in the even lesser-known film entitled "Parents". You are warned, though. `Parents' isn't a comedy; it's a very disturbing satirical look at American consumerism in the 1950's. However, it is ones of the few chances where you get a chance to see how good of an actor Randy Quaid actually is.
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A Treasure
TedMichaelMor18 May 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Delightful comedy with a fine edge for character study and subtle plays in narration, "Out Cold" looks like Edward Hopper paintings transposed into a playful movie. The Hopper like iconography blends with skillful comic acting, tight scripting, and thoughtful editing to create an utterly delightful film.

Director Malcolm Mowbray deftly handles George Marko and Leonard Glasser's droll writing. Teri Garr, Randy Quaid, and John Lithgow play off each other with precision and charm.

Some of the music sounds a bit too cute, but most of the soundtrack enhances the mood and narrative.

I wonder how I missed it at first release. I missed a treasure. There is not a false step here.
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good movie
bogonbeast12 November 2003
I agree that this movie is underrated. The cast is perfect for the material, and it has a clever story with lots of surprises along the way. My only complaint is that it's too short, and that it could have maybe gone a little further with the dark humor. It seems to hold back and play it safe a lot of the time. Other than that it's a great movie!
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Not terribly successful, but not bad either.
Scott LeBrun26 May 2012
An effective star trio remains the principal attraction for the duration of this likable if unspectacular black comedy. John Lithgow stars as a wimpy butcher who discovers his business partner (Bruce McGill) has frozen to death inside their walk in freezer. See, the partner's frustrated wife (Teri Garr) had grown tired of the guy (he treats her like garbage, including cheating on her) and when she found him in there, seized her opportunity to get rid of him, and locked him in there. Now the guilt plagued Lithgow reluctantly helps her in her series of cover-ups as the private detective (Randy Quaid) whom she originally hired to dig up dirt on the husband is getting too close to finding out what's going on. It's a shame with such a good cast that there aren't more comedy fireworks here. There are certainly funny moments but none that stick out or are particularly memorable. It *is* funny seeing an ice cream bar stuck to the frozen McGill's head, in any event. Lithgow is terrific as always, and Garr is a delight as the inexperienced schemer. Quaid is a hoot in one of his more straight laced performances, and the supporting cast features a number of familiar actors such as Lisa Blount, Alan Blumenfeld, Frederick Coffin, Marvin J. McIntyre, Larry Miller, Morgan Paull, and Barbara Rhoades. The farcical sequences with the dead body are a highlight (especially when it's propped up in the wilderness to make the death look like an accident). Granted, "Out Cold" doesn't reach the lunatic heights of the same year's "Weekend at Bernie's", but it still works pretty well in this regard. And when Lithgow and Garr are trying to dispose of a car and its radio comes on, blaring some obnoxious rock song, it's a scene both funny and tense, because one figures somebody *had* to have heard the music. Overall, "Out Cold" is a decent little comedy, and could stand to be better known. Six out of 10.
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