Odd Couple [1968]

Mike Nichols directed the 1965 stage production of Neil Simon's The Odd Couple, but while Nichols went on to become a vitally intelligent director of contemporary comedy, Simon's career thrived in the 1970s and '80s before dwindling towards sentimental fluff like this amusing but mildly disappointing sequel. Closer to Grumpy Old Men than the wry wit of Simon's original play and 1968 screen adaptation, the movie finds former roommates Oscar (Walter Matthau) and Felix (Jack Lemmon) reluctantly reuniting for the wedding of Oscar's son to Felix's daughter. When they get sidetracked in California, the road-movie formula unleashes the comedic chemistry of Lemmon and Matthau (which alone makes the movie worthwhile), but it's too casual to match the original's depth or dramatic foundation. Simon and Grumpy director Howard Deutch could have deepened the Oscar-Felix relationship to make it funnier and more emotionally involving, but instead they've played it safe with some good laughs in the kind of sketch comedy that Nichols would avoid. Simon's capable of much better than this, but Lemmon-Matthau fans will have a good time anyway. --Jeff Shannon

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