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Out to Sea

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Out to Sea

Starring: Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau
Director: Marth Coolidge
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 109 Minutes
Release Date: June 1997
Genres: Comedy, Romance

*Also starring: Dyan Cannon, Gloria De Haven, Brent Spiner, Elaine Stritch, Donald O'Connor, Edward Mulhare, Rue McClanahan

Review by Andrew Hicks
1½ stars out of 4

The latest tired collaboration from Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau is called OUT TO SEA, which is where screenwriter Robert Nelson Jacobs should be sent. It's one more 100-minute collection of lame jokes, one-note sitcom characters and chances for Lemmon and Matthau to call each other "putz" and "schmuck" in every scene. There aren't too many movies that are simultaneously geriatric and childish, but OUT TO SEA manages to embarrass itself on both counts.

This movie is essentially GRUMPY OLD MEN on a cruise ship -- GRUMPY OLD MEN AND THE SEA. (I wonder how many other movie critics, Internet and print, will think they coined that one themselves.) Lemmon is a depressed widower who basically keeps to his antique house, while Matthau is a compulsive gambler who owes a few thousand to his bookie. The solution: why, isn't it transparent? They'll go on a cruise and net some babes.

Small-time con man he is, Matthau signs himself and Lemmon up as dance instructors so they won't have to pay for the cruise. Lemmon can dance like Astaire livening up a bored night at the nursing home, but Matthau can't dance a lick. It opens the door for so many sitcom situations, like the inevitable montage in which Lemmon tries to teach Matthau to dance (in a comically-bad way, of course) and two men walk in on them during a tender slow-dance moment. Call it "83's Company." Soon, Matthau is trying to romance Dyan Cannon, plastic surgery casefile #459, and Lemmon is trying to get over his ex-wife with a silver-haired siren.

For a bad movie, OUT TO SEA has a great supporting cast. Most of them are aging, out-of-work actors who will apparently say or do anything if a big enough carrot is dangled in front of them. Donald "Make 'em Laugh" O'Conner is one of the genuine dance instructors, and does a couple interesting tap numbers, but we all know he'd dislocate a hip if he tried to duplicate his SINGIN' IN THE RAIN wall flips. Hal "Barney Miller" Linden is another dance instructor who has maybe five lines tops. Rue "Blanche" McClenahan is the owner of the ship who is the victim of a painfully bad dance with Matthau.

But the down-and-out prize goes to Brent "Data" Spiner, who plays the movie's villain, a militant cruise director who relishes his chance to perform cheesy song-and-dance numbers for captive passengers. Spiner does well bringing the best-written character in the movie to life, although like the others he still doesn't have a whole lot to work with. Still, it's fun to watch Spiner do the lounge act, knowing he released a real-life lounge failure album by the name of "Old Yellow Eyes is Back."

OUT TO SEA was a lot of fun for the actors to make, I'm sure. It comes complete with the usual grumpy old blooper reel that has Lemmon and Matthau laughing and cussing it up, but each one of these old fart movies gets increasingly hard to bear. The first GRUMPY had a lot of funny moments, but the second was a seldom- amusing rehash. OUT TO SEA, at its best, seems to contain the most mediocre moments of both. Lemmon and Matthau, you were great in the '60s but now you're a couple tired old men. The only way to succeed now is to pick a script that's not as tired as you schmucks. Geez, now I sound grumpy.

Copyright 1997 Andrew Hicks

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