The Out-Of-Towners Movie Review
How someone can take a screenplay by Neil Simon and turn it into a movieas bad as this Steve Martin-Goldie Hawn remake of "The Out-of-Towners"is beyond my cognitive capacities.
I wouldn't qualify Simon as a literary genius, but he isfunny. The original "Out-of-Towners," a passable country mousein the big city comedy which he wrote, starred Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennisas a pair of Ohio rubes having a Murphy's Law vacation in the Big Applewhile Lemmon sweats a big-time job interview. It was good for a jaded,yet wholesome, laugh.
In this remake, Martin and Hawn are Sandusky Volvo-iteswith empty nest syndrome, also venturing to New York for ad man Martin'sbig shot at Madison Avenue. But their Manhattan misadventures have beenliberally re-written by Marc Lawrence ("Forcesof Nature") to include not only the Simon-inspiredloss of their luggage and eviction from their hotel, but also the couple'sstumbling into a Mastrubator's Anonymous meeting and accidentally droppingacid while in jail for indecent exposure.
Sure, that sounds funny, especially when you pictureMartin acting out a bad hallucinogenic trip. But the sad thing is, eventhe slapstick flops in this sorry dud.
Steve Martin has, in recent years, allowed his screen personato become such a sitcom dad that his trademark antics now seem trite --watered down for mass consumption and set as they are against a soundtrackof dreadful, intrusive easy-listening arrangements.
Goldie Hawn can still cry funnier than any actor alive-- and does here more than once -- but she has adapted this image as thepatron saint of middle-aged women trying to hang on to their youth, andthat image seems to usurp any roll she plays these days.
This movie has that same comedy forced into poignancy aromathat haunted all the giggles in "The First Wives Club," but "TheOut-of-Towners" doesn't even have those giggles, and it often fallsback on 20th generation schtick like the old revolving door gag. Who doesn'tknow this joke?
The movie's one saving grace is that when it does occasionallyturn away from its soft-focused central characters in mid-town mid-lifecrises, the focus shift to John Cleese, who plays a cross-dressing hotelmanager who snarks around in his wealthy guests furs and Ferragamos. Nowthat's funny.