George and Gwen Kellerman are going through some big lifestyle changes.
The last of their 2 kids just left home, leaving them with only each
other to talk to. In addition, George has just lost his job -- a fact
he's trying to hide from Gwen. "I have absolutely no idea what I'm
going to do with the rest of my life," she confesses sadly over a lonely
dinner with her husband. Although this may sound serious, THE
OUT-OF-TOWNERS, a remake of the 1970 Neil Simon screenplay, is a comedy,
albeit not a particularly funny one.
The Kellermans are played without much chemistry by Steve Martin and
Goldie Hawn, who deliver decidedly subpar performances. George is a
no-nonsense ad executive, and Gwen, who used to be in advertising, is a
hopelessly romantic type. She likes to wear sexy lingerie and light
their bedroom with exotic candles. He likes to blow them out and go to
sleep. Needless to say, their love life isn't.
When they go to New York for his job interview, the trip starts off
inauspiciously with their plane being diverted to Boston. This is
followed by a Cliff's Notes version of PLANES, TRAINS & AUTOMOBILES that
lands them broke and luggageless in New York.
As directed by Sam Weisman and written by Marc Lawrence, the movie is
full of missteps and bad judgement. Too often in a hurry, few of the
jokes are set up properly. Gwen, for example, plows into the Fulton
Fish market with her car in the type of scene that you've seen a hundred
times before, but it's edited so fast that you're never sure what is
supposed to be funny about it. And when a starving George heads for the
vending machine, you are so sure that it will jam that, when it does,
the result is laugh free.
The story does have a few genuinely humorous moments. Low on blood
sugar, their noses lead the Kellermans to a pile of pastries, but,
before they can partake, they have to join the group hosting the
meeting. It turns out to be a sexaholics group session, full of couples
who confess they can't stop having sex constantly. George and Gwen
accidentally come up with a few revelations themselves at the meeting.
Steve Martin does get to strut his stuff in an energetic sequence set in
Central Park. George is given an hallucinogenic drug, which causes him
to dance and sing to "The Age of Aquarius" as he chases his wife and
Did I mention John Cleese's performance as the obsequious hotel manager,
who is a secret cross-dresser? He likes to hide in unused hotel rooms
and dance and lip-synch in stiletto heels. He seems to have dropped in
from another movie, which isn't much better than this one. If you've
seen the trailers to THE OUT-OF-TOWNERS, you've already seen most of the
best parts of the story. The rest is just lame padding.
THE OUT-OF-TOWNERS runs 1:31. It is rated PG-13 for sexuality and drug
references and would be fine for kids around 12 and up.
Copyright © 1999 Steve Rhodes