Out to Sea (1997)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Buddy Film, Romantic Comedy  |   Release Date - Jul 2, 1997 (USA)  |   Run Time - 109 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau's penultimate screen vehicle never touches the comedic gold of The Odd Couple or The Fortune Cookie, but is so much fresher and funnier than the following year's execrable Odd Couple II (or the duo's nadir of all nadirs, 1981's Buddy Buddy) that fans of the leads who are unfamiliar with this picture may find it a pleasant surprise. The script, by first-timer Robert Nelson Jacobs, carefully skirts around the crass scatological yock of the Grumpy Old Men films, but also proves that less aggressively offensive doesn't necessarily mean less amusing. Jacobs and director Martha Coolidge curry much hilarity from the story's central fish-out-of-water premise, especially in a riotous central set-piece where Matthau's leaden-toed character attempts to dance (what a word) with the cruise ship owner (Rue McClanahan), while hiding from a paramour he has deceived. The filmmakers also tap humor from eccentricities of the secondary and tertiary characters, particularly Brent Spiner as a scheming, sniveling cruise host who juggles an absurd number of hats as the boat's musical performer (and does perhaps the funniest cover of "Oye Como Va" ever filmed). As usual, Lemmon masters the slow-burn here, once again cast as an increasingly exasperated straight man vis-a-vis Matthau's nutty scheming. The picture's greatest asset, though, is its supporting cast, comprised of vets including not only Spiner and McClanahan, but Donald O'Connor, Dyan Cannon, Hal Linden, Elaine Stritch, Gloria DeHaven, and the wily old satyr Edward Mulhare, who died not long after production. The end-credits roll features cutaways to members of the ensemble dancing (alone and in pairs) to Bobby Darin's cover of "More," on a black soundstage. It's such an exuberant three-minute stretch - rife to bursting with the joy of performance - that it kicks the picture up from an amiable diversion into the realm of the sublime in its final moments.