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The Out-Of-Towners review

If you happened to catch the `99 Oscars, you'll have witnessed the embarrassing spectacle of Goldie Hawn joining Steve Martin on stage ostensibly to present an award, but delivering instead some incoherent babble in a lame attempt to plug The Out-Of-Towners. Those excruciating four minutes, in which Hawn appeared spaced-out, fluffed all her lines and giggled for no reason, were painful viewing. Now try to imagine those few minutes multiplied by 25. That's 100 minutes of Goldie Hawn whining and giggling and generally being `wacky' while Steve Martin simply looks uncomfortable. That, in a nutshell, is The Out-Of-Towners.

This is an update of the Neil Simon-penned 1970 comedy in which Jack Lemmon did most of the whining, with Sandy Dennis as his wife. But the new version parts company plot-wise soon after the couple arrive in New York, so don't go expecting a straight remake. Featuring heavily is John Cleese, who takes the supporting role of a somewhat familiar, sarcastic hotel manager. His performance is a few notches down from his Basil Fawlty schtick, but it's still massively OTT and, sadly, out of place in a Hollywood comedy of misadventure. It's hard to believe that Steve Martin was once a very physical comedian, because the distance between him and Cleese in The Out-Of-Towners is disconcertingly extreme.

That's not to say that it doesn't have any funny moments. There's the odd line that'll tweak your mouth into a smiley-shape. But too many laboured set-ups must be waded through before you get to the punchline situation or snippet of dialogue that earns the laugh.

The real problem here is that the couple are so damn unlikeable. There's absolutely no reason to root for them - in fact, the reverse is true. You actually wish for things to go wrong. So much so that when the John Cleese character says towards the end: "I think I'm beginning to like them," the immediate question that springs to mind is: "Why, you great big hairy-lipped fool!?"

Any hint of chemistry that Hawn and Martin had in Housesitter has been obliterated. What's left is a couple of irritating characters who deserve all they get - and worse! Ignore this: go see Bowfinger again instead.

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