Grumpy Old Men (1993) [Blu-ray]
|Warner Brothers || PG13 - 104 minutes - $28.99 || July 7, 2009|
|Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2009-07-12|
Writer(s): Mark Steven Johnson (written by)
Cast: Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Ann-Margret, Kevin Pollak, Ossie Davis, Daryl Hannah
Theatrical Release Date: December 25, 1993
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I’m not sure why, but it doesn’t seem like Grumpy Old Men gets the praise other comedies of the early-mid 90s do. Certainly it doesn’t measure up to Groundhog Day which has become a classic of late, but seeing these two late screen legends (and real friends) together is something magical even when the story flounders a little. Yet their screen chemistry takes the entire movie off the ground and makes it an enjoyable ride.
Plot: Next door neighbors John Gustafson (Jack Lemmon) and Max Goldman (Walter Matthau) are Grumpy Old Men. Snowy Minnesota provides the setting as Max and John unleash an uproarious blizzard of practical jokes and zingers. Their lifelong rivalry comes to a head when new next door – and single – neighbor moves in and soon both are vying for her affections.
One cannot help but admire the talents for Lemmon and Matthau, you can’t find that comedic chemistry very often and there are only a few over the past few decades (the one that immediately springs to mind is Ed McMahon/Johnny Carson and Dean Martin/Jerry Lewis). But the Lemmon/Matthau duo, since their beginnings in Billy Wilder’s The Fortune Cookie (1966) followed by a true classic, and one that the Matthau-Lemmon pairing are most known for, The Odd Couple (1968). The two would go on to co-star in 8 other movies together including sequels The Odd Couple II and Grumpier Old Men. The Odd Couple II would in fact be their last screen presence together and although the movie could not capture the magic of the original, it’s only fitting that what really started their onscreen duel would be their last.
As for the rest of the movie, the supporting cast is great even when playing third fiddle to Matthau/Lemmon. Ann-Margret is perfect as the free-spirit Ariel while Kevin Pollak and Daryl Hannah play the Matthau and Lemmon’s kids (respectively) very nicely. Their own romantic chemistry would come into play with Grumpier Old Men two years later. And then there’s Burgess Meredith... He plays second fiddle to no one and is hysterical as Lemmon’s wide-cracking father.
This film also marks the writing debut of Mark Steven Johnson, yes the same man behind Daredevil and the woeful Ghost Rider. Obviously this screenplay works because of Matthau and Lemmon, but if even half of the sharp and witty dialogue was his, I wish he’d go back to writing comedy (although to be fair, the Daredevil director’s cut wasn’t too bad)...
Grumpy Old Men, though, is probably right up there with The Odd Couple in showing just how, despite their cynical and angry characters, great the two worked together. Moron! Putz!
The only feature is the theatrical trailer, the fact it’s in widescreen makes it all the worthwhile, however...
.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.
Grumpy Old Men, for a 16 year old film, doesn’t look too bad. Sure, there’s plenty of noise and general film grain and the detail level isn’t the greatest, but I can’t really complain too much as I consider it to be acceptable. What makes the grade for me is the fact that this movie is FINALLY available in widescreen (1.85) as DVD releases have been full frame only.
On the audio front, Warner has provided a Dolby TrueHD 2.0 track. Of course it is front loaded and doesn’t sound all that good, but again, it’s acceptable for a film this “old”. It is a comedy so take that into consideration as it is strictly dialogue with only a scene or two of actual sound effects to go along with a comedic score.
If for some reason you still have not seen Grumpy Old Men, now’s the time to do it. You not only get it in widescreen but with half-way decent video and certainly acceptable audio. Although I would’ve liked to have seen some kind of retrospective featurette on Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon, this Blu-ray is still well worth buying.
I should note that a new “Grumpy Old Men Collection” DVD is set for release on September 15, 2009 (and a solo Grumpy Old Men disc a week before) so that might have a widescreen transfer as well, so we’ll see.