Kirk Douglas is a real trooper. He still looks darn good for eighty, and his resilience after suffering a debilitating stroke in 1996 is quite admirable. Unfortunately, he's the only thing really worth cheering about in Diamonds. In his first big-time Hollywood production, director John Asher has three major stars with Dan Aykroyd, Douglas, and the beautiful Lauren Bacall, but the newcomer fails to add anything truly novel to the hackneyed formula of an implausible treasure hunt that brings together an estranged family.
The story follows the life of Harry Agensky (Kirk Douglas), a former welterweight champion who is devastated by the one-two punch of the loss of his beloved wife and the after-effects of a stroke. Once known as the "Polish Prince," Harry is now faced with spending the rest of his life in a retirement home. But there is hope as, supposedly, fifty years ago he made a deal with a Reno mobster to throw a fight so that he could retrieve hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of diamonds... but he can't remember where they are hidden. Nobody will help Harry, and his visiting son Lance (Aykroyd) doesn't buy his father's fable about the fight and the diamonds, either. Lance is his dad's opposite, a super-sensitive San Jose Mercury News sports writer still trying to win over his old man. Ironically, Lance seems to have the same problems with his own son Michael (Corbin Allred - Anywhere But Here). When the three decide to go for broke and head to Reno, they clash hard and seem to fail every step of the way. However, what they lose in wealth they gain in insight, and finally discover they can't live apart.
The story, despite being sappy and clichéd, is somewhat fun, and the physical antics of Douglas, of all people, steal the show. He's surprisingly nimble and quick-witted, and he proves that the "Polish Prince," after all those years, can still kick some butt. Unfortunately, Aykroyd, who I was hoping would show stuff from the hilarious days of The Blues Brothers and Trading Places, is somewhat limited in his role. So much is made of him as a big wimp, constantly sucking up to his father, that he doesn't have the freedom to get really wacky. On the other hand, Lauren Bacall, playing a Reno madam, is excellent as the love interest of Harry. The two have great chemistry and their tryst is strangely romantic and satisfying.
This one gets three stars simply because Kirk Douglas carries it on his still powerful shoulders. While it's not quite as good as Grumpy Old Men, it's light years ahead of The Odd Couple II.
Rough in the Diamond.