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   THE OUT-OF-TOWNERS (1999) 

[Get the Poster]

CAST
Steve Martin
Goldie Hawn
John Cleese
Mark McKinney
Oliver Hudson
Valerie Perri
William Duell

DIRECTED BY
Sam Weisman

PURCHASE


DVD




Time: 92 mins.
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Comedy


BOTTOM LINE: Because I'm a big fan of Steve Martin's, I wish he was given better material to work with these days. He's a brilliant physical comedian and a clever man and it saddens me when I have to see him in mediocre films. The fact that THE OUT-OF-TOWNERS is only a so-so movie is because there's nothing in it that you haven't seen a million times before. The fact that it gets any stars at all is due to the talent of its cast – Hawn and Cleese included – who elevate the level of any film they happen to pop up in. The fact that you see most of the funny moments in the trailer doesn't help either. I still laughed at a few of them, but it's just not the same. I understand that the filmmakers need to show some things in order to get you into the theater, but sometimes it works to their disadvantage. Especially when those are the best bits.

This is not to say that The Out-of-Towners is a complete waste of time, but it won't knock your socks off either. One of the better things I can say about it is at least they kept it short. Martin and Hawn are great together. Their relationship onscreen as a middle-aged married couple with an empty nest and no idea of how they're going to spend the rest of their lives is poignant. Unfortunately, the main problem with this movie, as in most films, is the script. Forget the implausibility of their airplane being diverted, missing their train, getting lost, crashing their rental car, getting mugged, having their credit card denied, and being thrown out of their hotel all in the first 8 hours of their leaving Ohio.

Hawn and Martin are wonderful in these manic moments as fish out of water just trying to survive a night in the Big Apple. The problem is I never doubted they would for a second. Not because they were so clever and capable, but because they were never really in any danger. I know this is supposed to be a comedy, but it had no bite to it. Nothing to make you fear for their safety and make you root for them when they survive another "welcome to New York" tragedy. All good comedies have a dark side and if this one explored it just a tiny bit, it would have been ten times better.

Things go from bad to worse, but Henry saves the day when he remembers he stuck a credit card in his sock in the event just such a thing occurred. Unfortunately, it was the card number Nancy innocently gave to their daughter who charged the card up over the limit after being thrown out of the dorm. Since they don't have any money, Mr. Mersault (Cleese) has them thrown out of the hotel. They go to their daughter's apartment, but she's not at home. Henry loses hope. He'll never get the job without a good night's sleep and fresh clothes. Plus, he's starving. He just wants to go home. New York has won. Nancy can't believe what she's hearing. It's not the end of their lives, just a different phase. She wants to experience everything all over again. Henry just wants to go home and read. It looks like their marriage might be over. Needless to say, the craziness that follows renews their love for each other and gives them a new lease on life. Big surprise.


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There are no better physical comedians out there than Hawn and Martin and they really try to give this film energy and a sense of fun, but it just doesn't come together. Most of the situations are pretty mundane, having been done over and over again in films about New York. Cleese dressed up in woman's clothing would've been amusing if we hadn't seen him in crazier getups before. Sean Connery in a dress - that would catch your eye. Using Cleese is just old. Talk about a waste of talent. The film has some funny moments and one-liners, but they are too few and far between. You can definitely wait for video or cable for this one.



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