Monday, December 15, 2014

The Out-of-Towners (1999)

An absolutely awful film. It was hard to justify spending 90 minutes on this crap when there are so many other films to watch. 15 minutes in I was ready to turn it off, but figured I should stick it out if I was going to write it up. I disliked it instantly from the opening scene, which uses John Lennon's "Just Like Starting Over" for cheap effect -- something the film has not earned the right to do. It only gets worse from there.

Painfully stupid, predictable, broad, annoyingly overscored (with wall-to-wall orchestrations in typical '90s fashion), awkwardly directed and edited, and not a single laugh in the whole piece. You know it's bad when comic "highlights" include crashing a car into a Chinatown fish market and being chased through the streets by a mad dog.

Despite the credit that reads "based on the screenplay by Neil Simon", this version borrows only the basic plot of his 1970 script. The premise of the fish-out-of-water Midwesterners lost in big, scary New York worked better in the original, with the gritty, naturalistic setting providing an effective backdrop. Here, in 1990s Disneyland NYC, the contrast falls flat, and lacks the bite of the earlier film. Saddest of all is the incredible waste of talent involved -- the usually great Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn are unfunny and unlikable here, overplaying the badly-written dialogue and slapstick. Even John Cleese, as a snobby hotel manager, is wasted in his role. A forgettable mess of a comedy that is most definitely not recommended.

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