How does that catchy song about New York go? Oh, yes. “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere.” But, after 24 years of marriage, can the Clarks of Ohio rekindle their romance by spending 24 hours in the Big Apple? That’s the big question in The Out-of-Towners, a lively remake of Neil Simon’s 1970 comedy.
Goldie Hawn and Steve martin take on the roles originally played by Sandy Dennis and Jack Lemmon. Viewers who loved Hawn and Martin in Housesitter won’t be disappointed in their second pairing together. In fact, I think this movie is one of those rare remakes that’s almost as good as the first film, due mostly to the excellent Hawn-Martin chemistry. According to Martin, he and Hawn share a unique rapport. “Goldie and I are such great pals we don’t have to be gentle or afraid of stepping on toes,” he explained. “We are a barometer to each other and somehow get to the heart of each other’s humor.”
Director Sam Weisman (George of the Jungle) recognized his co-stars’ special relationship right away. He admired the way they were “so instinctive about setting each other up when the scene belonged to the other and gracious about nudging the scene in that direction.” And he thought it was great to see “a mature couple who are so sexy, appealing and funny.”
For extra laughter insurance, Weisman added John Cleese, that outrageous Brit from “Fawlty Towers,” to the cast. Cleese upstages everyone as an arrogant hotel manager who helps make life miserable for the visiting duo. His zany dancing in women’s clothes brings back memories of those hilarious “Monty Python” silly walks sketches.
Updated for the 1990s by screenwriter Marc Lawrence (Forces of Nature), this second film treatment of The Out-of-Towners comes across as much brighter visually than the original. It shows off New York to the max. Central Part, Greenwich Village and Times Square never looked better on the big screen. No wonder Rudy Giuliani agreed to play himself in one humorous scene.
The Out-of-Towners focuses on emotional dynamics between its two main characters, not just on comic mishaps. In this version, Martin and Hawn play a long-married husband and wife who must decide whether they want to spend the rest of their lives together. They are facing an “empty nest” and all the uncertainties that entails. Forced to deal with a series of calamities during their New York trip, they take risks that surprise each other. Finally, they realize what they want out of life. In the words of another old song, who could ask for anything more?
(Released by Paramount Pictures and rated “PG-13” for some sex and drug-related humor.)
For more information about The Out-of-Towners, go to the Internet Movie Data Base or Rotten Tomatoes website.