film & game reviews, the retro way.
Seven years after they first worked together on Housesitter, Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn reunited in this 1999 remake of Neil Simon's The Out-Of-Towners in which a couple from Ohio on their way to a critical job interview find themselves lost in New York City as their marriage is put to the ultimate test.
While a remake of Arthur Hiller's original film wasn't entirely necessary, this seemed like a fun project considering the cast involved. Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennis weren't exactly the most upbeat duo in the 1970 film, which admittedly helped cement their characters' stressful journey, so there was definitely room for a lighter take. Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn make an instantly likeable team and John Cleese, in a kind of Basil Fawlty update role, nearly steals the show as the rude hotel manager. A lot happens to the Clarks during their catastrophic trip and the couple's relationship is very reminiscent of Jane Fonda and Robert Redford's in the movie Barefoot In The Park, also written by Neil Simon: chaotic but ultimately quite sweet.
There are amusing and likeable aspects to this movie but it really is the cast that holds the whole thing together as the script just lacks knockout jokes and memorable set ups. Planes, Trains and Automobiles expertly juggled hilarious visual gags, sharp, funny lines and heartfelt emotional moments but The Out-Of-Towners is a lot patchier and you never feel like the Clarks' relationship is in any real danger. This is partly due to the slightly underwritten script but also the occasionally heavy-handed approach to the comedy in this film, whether it's through the overblown score or actors having to overcompensate for potentially funny sequences with sadly no payoff. More often than not, however, they'll still at least get a smile out of you.
It may not be as good as Housesitter but The Out-Of-Towners, which was a resounding flop back in the day, is nowhere near as bad as its reputation suggests. It's not always as sharp or as funny as it could have been, granted, but it has tons of charm, a cozy light-hearted tone and enough laughs to make it worth a watch.