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Grumpy Old Men(1993)
Two elderly, eccentric, next-door neighbors sustain a rancorous relationship that only a wise observer could recognize as a very special friendship. When a lonely, flamboyant, middle-aged widow moves in across the street from them, the male rivalry begins.
For more about Grumpy Old Men and the Grumpy Old Men Blu-ray release, see Grumpy Old Men Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on July 2, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Director: Donald Petrie
Writers: William Osborne, William Davies, Mark Steven Johnson
Starring: Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Ann-Margret, Burgess Meredith, Daryl Hannah, Kevin Pollak
» See full cast & crew
Grumpy Old Men Blu-ray Review
A formulaic comedy that holds up well despite its age...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, July 2, 2009
Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, two of the finest actors and comedians of the 20th century, were once a staple amongst moviegoers and filmfans. Their frequent collaborations transformed them into one of the most indelible comic duos in the history of cinema; their commitment to their craft and indisputable humanity brought their every character to life. Whether barking at each other in The Odd Couple, scamming an insurance company in The Fortune Cookie, or dancing around death in Buddy Buddy, their playful pairings left audiences rolling... regardless of the quality of the film itself. By the time they squared off as longtime, small town rivals in director Donald Petrie's Grumpy Old Men, their devotees were packing theater seats just to see what the cantankerous twosome would do next. That's right... long before The Hangover shocked Hollywood and surged past box office expectations, Grumpy Old Men had earned a then-astonishing 70-million dollars. Was it a great film? That's debatable. Did it present yet another perfect opportunity for Lemmon and Matthau to showcase their infectious talents? Without a doubt.
As its title aptly suggests, Lemmon and Matthau play two elderly, Minnesotan widowers -- John Gustafson and Max Goldman, respectively -- who've shared an ongoing, enduring rivalry that traces back to John's marriage to Max's childhood sweetheart. Stubborn neighbors ever since, their timeworn hatred only intensifies when an enchanting older woman named Ariel Truax (Ann-Margret) moves into their neighborhood and attracts both men's attention. A widow herself, Ariel represents a second chance at life and love for both men, as well as an opportunity to revisit the betrayal and wounded pride that tore them apart decades before. Now, with flowers in hand and thinly-veiled pickup lines at the ready, John and Max prepare for battle. At the same time, John has to deal with a pesky IRS agent (Buck Henry) and his daughter's (Daryl Hannah) marital woes, and Max has to contend with loneliness and a fledgling desire to make peace with his lifelong enemy.
I don't attest to being a part of Grumpy Old Men's target audience, nor am I the sort of moviegoer who would naturally gravitate to a comedy about quarreling retirees, but I have to say: sometimes funny is just funny, regardless of how primed you are to accept or reject its trappings. Watching Matthau (who passed away in 2000) and Lemmon (who followed his old friend home in 2001) banter and bicker is a bittersweet joy. They launch into every gag and setup with an enthusiastic physicality befitting their on-screen presence. Matthau's bulldog jowls grab onto every word and sneer, injecting a sense of foppish regret into each of his scenes, while Lemmon counters with the tenacious resolve of a man half his age. Together, they're a riot. Separately, they're the source of more grins than a film of such syrupy sentimentality deserves.
Unfortunately, the story is so predictable and formulaic that it undermines each performance, leaving the film to languish beneath the weight of screenwriter Mark Steven Johnson's rote plot developments and adherence to tried-n-true genre conventions. Moreover, despite an entire town's enamored gaze, Ariel turns out to be little more than a uninspiring MacGuffin; an object of contrived affection even the great Ann-Margret struggles to craft into a believable human being. Worse still, Melanie wears out her welcome almost as quickly as she appears, a troubling development only compounded by the arrival of her less-than-ideal hubby, Jacob (Kevin Pollak, an actor whose every nasally intonation and exasperated rant preps my lungs for a workout). I understand Johnson's desire to further explore the personal lives of his squabbling protagonists, but these subplots often take up too much precious screentime I would have rather seen devoted to Max and John's antics.
Be that as it may, Lemmon and Matthau make Grumpy Old Men worth watching if for no other reason than to relish in their impeccable chemistry and hilarious improvisations. Even if you're a rosy-cheeked whippersnapper like myself, don't write off this one as a comedy for your parents and grandparents. It may not strike the same comic gold for you as it will for your local senior citizenry, but it does serve up enough laughs to justify 103 minutes of your young life.
Grumpy Old Men Blu-ray, Video Quality
When Grumpy Old Men's initially wince-inducing 1080p/VC-1 transfer awkwardly shambled across my screen -- softness, contrast wavering, telecine wobble, edge enhancement and all -- I braced myself for the worst. To my relief, the rest of the film wasn't nearly as mangled as its first five minutes, and even managed to impress me on more than one occasion. Skintones are problematic (flushed at times, bronzed at others) and black levels far too oppressive, but the filmic nature of the picture captures the texture of its original theatrical presentation quite well. Its moderate veneer of grain is rarely a distraction, detail is consistent with other faithful catalog presentations, and clarity, despite having to contend with the aforementioned grain field, is generally revealing. Delineation takes a hit throughout (heavy shadows frequently consume the backgrounds), but depth and dimensionality are commendable enough to excuse such shortcomings. Moreover, artifacting, banding, source noise, and aliasing are kept to a minimum, and ringing, while a bit strong for my tastes, is admittedly restrained. In the end, if you're able to look past a few warts and liver spots, the Blu-ray edition of Grumpy Old Men looks pretty good.
Grumpy Old Men Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Newcomers may wrinkle their noses at Warner's markedly flat Dolby TrueHD 2.0 stereo track, but purists will appreciate the studio's restoration of the film's original audio elements, as well as its decision to grant a barebones, two-channel mix a proficient, high-end lossless track. Dialogue is as clean, intelligible, and accommodating as I expected. Overlooking a handful of muddled quips and looped lines, Matthau and Lemmon sound great. The soundscape itself is limited by a myriad of overlapping effects and musical score cues, but anyone armed with appropriate expectations will find little to complain about. And while it would have been nice to hear the boys' shenanigans supported with a bit of LFE oomph, the stereo track handles low-end whumps well. It may not be as immersive as a top-dollar 5.1 remix or as hearty as the latest-n-greatest actioner, but it's well suited for the task at hand.
Grumpy Old Men Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Like every previous release of the film, the Blu-ray edition of Grumpy Old Men doesn't offer fans anything more than a theatrical trailer (SD, 2 minutes).
Grumpy Old Men Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Even at thirty, I think I'm still far too young to really enjoy Grumpy Old Men the way its faithful fold did when they showered it with 70-million box office bucks. Funny? Sure. A testament to Lemmon and Matthau's comic genius? Most definitely. But a multi-generational crowd-pleaser? Not quite. The same could be said of Warner's Blu-ray release. Old-timers will be more than impressed with the upgrade the film has been afforded -- its faithful video transfer and lossless stereo track are certainly able-bodied -- but modern filmfans will probably expect more polish for their hard-earned cash. All things considered, anyone who loves Grumpy Old Men will be satisfied by the studio's efforts, while others may be a bit more critical of its infirmities.
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Grumpy Old Men Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Today on Blu-ray - July 7th - July 6, 2009
While Hollywood continually adapts to the demands of an ever-changing audience, there is one thing it can always rely upon - funny is funny. Whether it is the unlikely mannerisms of 'Dr. Strangelove', the mischievous plots of 'Ferris Bueller', or the life of a ...
• Grumpy Old Men Blu-ray Gets Detailed - March 30, 2009
Warner Home Video has announced the technical specs and special features for the upcoming Blu-ray release of 'Grumpy Old Men', which is due to hit store shelves on July 7th. Video will be presented in 1.85:1 1080p VC-1 accompanied by a 2.0 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack. ...
• Grumpy Old Men Coming to Blu-ray - March 9, 2009
Warner Home Video has announced that they will bring the Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau comedy 'Grumpy Old Men' to Blu-ray on July 7th. Technical specs have not announced at this time, though you can expect the typical 1080p VC-1 and Dolby TrueHD treatment from ...
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