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Grumpy Old Men / Grumpier Old Men(1993-1995)
'Grumpy Old Men' - 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. 'Grumpier Old Men' - Summertime has come to Wabasha, Minnesota, and mosquito-slapping in canoes has replaced shivering in ice shanties as the local fishing ritual. Even the decades-old battle of one-upmanship between next-door neighbors John Gustafson and Max Goldman has mellowed. With John happily and newly married to Ariel, Max is left without a sparring partner. Until the arrival of Maria Ragetti who has taken over Chuck's legendary bait store and has the unspeakable, sacrilegious notion to threaten the cherished fishing hole and its rustic way of life by converting the store into a romantic Italian ristorante. To keep that from happening, John and Max begin a strategic campaign of innuendo, gossip and sabotage that spreads quickly through town. But the pair aren't prepared for the fortitude of Maria, who has no intention of surrendering so easily. As she returns their volleys, insult-for-insult and prank-for-prank, not only does she threaten to win the war, but to win Max's heart as well.
For more about Grumpy Old Men / Grumpier Old Men and the Grumpy Old Men / Grumpier Old Men Blu-ray release, see Grumpy Old Men / Grumpier Old Men Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on March 17, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Ann-Margret, Burgess Meredith, Daryl Hannah, Kevin Pollak
Directors: Donald Petrie, Howard Deutch
This Blu-ray bundle includes the following titles, see individual titles for specs and details:
Grumpy Old Men / Grumpier Old Men Blu-ray Review
Oh, Country For Old Men
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, March 17, 2010
The saggier the flesh, the droopier the box office returns is presumably the excuse for why Hollywood hasn't been known to produce very many rom-coms for the over-sixty set, so the fact that Grumpy Old Men and its sequel, Grumpier Old Men, raked in a combined $140 million in ticket sales—a smack in the face of conventional wisdom—just goes to prove that a.) funny is funny no matter the age, b.) older people want and deserve films that reflect their experience, and c.) even geriatric sex sells. It certainly doesn't hurt that the two films star the original odd couple, the late, great Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon, who, over the course of nearly a dozen films together, established one of the greatest and most beloved comedic duos of the twentieth century. Each had a prolific and accomplished solo career—they were both Academy Award winners—but it's next to impossible to imagine one without the other. What would you call Felix Ungar without Oscar Madison? The Odd Guy? And what would Max Goldman be without John Gustafson? The Grumpy Old Man? In that spirit of togetherness, Warner Bros. has seen fit to release both Old Men films on a single Blu-ray disc, a two-for-one bargain that fans of the strange pair will find hard to pass up.
A quick note: Warner Bros. previously put out Grumpy Old Men as a standalone title in July, 2009, and since the film looks and sounds identical in this release, we'll keep this review short and focus on Grumpier Old Men's Blu-ray debut. If you'd like to read some thoughtful analysis of the first movie and its audio/video presentation, head on over to Kenneth Brown's review, which can be found here.
In Grumpier Old Men, Matthau and Lemmon are back as Max Goldman and John Gustafson, two curmudgeonly old coots who've spent a lifetime vacillating between being best friends and bitter rivals. Their main objects of competition? Fish and women. This time around, they've got a good cause to join forces, as their beloved bait shop on Lake Wabasha is now owned by Maria Sophia Coletta Raghetti (Sophia Loren), a feisty redhead—what other kind is there?— who plans on turning it into an Italian ristorante. The crotchety old duo pull all manner of juvenile pranks on Maria Sophia, like releasing a guinea pig into the restaurant during a health inspection, but their perennial feud is reignited when Max's son Jacob (Kevin Pollak) and John's daughter Melanie (Daryl Hannah) have a falling out over the stress of their upcoming nuptials. Cue the film's second montage of geriatric tomfoolery, as Max and John go to extreme lengths of illogical one-upmanship to aggravate and humiliate one another. They run out of piss and vinegar eventually though—figuratively, of course—just as an unlikely love blooms between Max and Sophia.
Just as formulaic as the first film, Grumpier Old Men is a lightweight romp through rom- com conventions, replacing sexy twentysomethings with hound-jowled retirees and post-post- menopausal temptresses in sunhats. But that's almost beside the point in an outing like this. The plot is just a stage for Matthau and Lemmon's theatrical bickering and spry physical comedy. Yes, their routine could be rightfully called old hat, but what's more lovingly worn in and comfortable than that? The two actors have a familiarity that borders on spousal, and their cranky, give-and-take repartee is like watching an old married couple verbally duking it out in a spat over some trivial nothing—there's a fencer-like gracefulness in their carefully worded jabs and parries, but it all seems so effortlessly offhand. (That's years of practice talking.)
Most of the supporting cast members are limited to roles as mere plot propellers—Daryl Hannah and Kevin Pollak's wedding planning fiasco is just a narrative nudge, and Ann-Margret has little to do as John's wife, Ariel—but there are a few standouts among the set dressing. Sophia Loren gives as good as she gets, dropping an ice cube down her décolletage or dousing Max and John with marinara sauce, and she's a true beauty here, as always. The show-stealer, though, as in the first film, is Burgess Meredith—best known as Mick from Rocky—who gives his salty, horn-dog all in what would be his final motion picture performance. Meredith was well into his bout with Alzheimer's by the time he appeared here, but you'd never guess it, as he plays Grandpa Gustafson with a twinkle-eyed lasciviousness that's as sharp as it is lewd. He also gets the bulk of the film's best innuendo-laced jokes, pursuing Mama Raghetti (Ann Morgan Guilbert) with lusty ambitions. (When she asks him what Hawaiian islands he's visited, he responds, "Come-on-I- wanna-lay-ya.")
What I've always appreciated about Grumpy and Grumpier Old Men is that neither film is condescending toward its Golden Aged characters, treating them as real people with real—and often frankly sexual—needs. The humor definitely appeals more to an older crowd, but when everything else in Hollywood is targeted at the financial sweet spot of the 18-35 demographic, I don't think there's anything wrong with that at all.
Grumpy Old Men / Grumpier Old Men Blu-ray, Video Quality
The standalone release of Grumpy Old Men shipped on a 25GB Blu-ray disc—see our review here for PQ details—and for this two-for-one set, Warner Bros. simply placed both films on a 50GB platter. Grumpier Old Men, with its 1080p/VC-1 encoded transfer, looks slightly better—and more consistent—than its predecessor, which labors under oppressive black levels and a dirty, wobbly, blurry opening sequence that doesn't appear to be restored to the level of the rest of the film. (Thankfully, this only lasts for a few minutes.) Grumpier has a few small problems of its own, but generally the picture here is tighter and cleaner. Aside from some scattered black flecks, the print itself shows little wear 'n' tear, and the film's grain structure remains stable and rarely distracting. Color is strictly natural, skin tones never veer off in brutally tanned or ghoulishly pale directions, and black levels seem much better balanced this time around. Famed cinematographer Tak Fujimoto's lensing reveals an ample but never wowing sense of detail, and it appears that he used some sort of diffusion filter at times to soften out the actresses' wrinkles, resulting in a somewhat hazy quality. Even in close-ups, things look a little soft, but the image here —for both films, actually—is a flying leap above the shoddy looking full-frame DVDs.
Do note that all screenshots in this review are from Grumpier Old Men. Click here for twenty shots of Grumpy goodness.
Grumpy Old Men / Grumpier Old Men Blu-ray, Audio Quality
For this release, Grumpy Old Men sports the same DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo track as it did as on its standalone disc—once again, see our review here for details—while Grumpier Old Men gets a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix that's appreciably fuller, even if it only makes minimal use of the extra channels. Every little bit counts though, and the rear speakers occasionally swell with tweeting birds, quiet wind, and other outdoorsy ambience. You'll even get a nice throaty purr out of the old men's outboard motors, and Max's car roars with a surprising LFE rumble as it pulls up to the bait shop. For most of the film, though, the track is a balancing act of dialogue and Alan Silvestri's score, both of which are clear, uncompromised, and dynamically sound. The sugary music is seriously forgettable—you've heard the same jaunty/whimsical orchestration in a thousand films before—but it's appropriate for the content, and I suppose it offsets some of Max and John's curmudgeonly saltiness. Overall, this a light, almost TV episode-like mix—unobtrusive and complementary.
Grumpy Old Men / Grumpier Old Men Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
This Blu-ray twofer arrives with the barest of bones. There are no supplementary materials at all included on this disc, not even a pair of trailers.
Grumpy Old Men / Grumpier Old Men Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Matthau and Lemmon both sadly passed away before they could give us the superlative Grumpiest Old Men, but their Grumpy and Grumpier efforts, for all their narrative shortcomings, are fun comedies that appeal to a generation that doesn't get many movies made specifically for them. These films aren't just for fuddy duddies, though. The stories might be over-60-centric, but much of the humor is universal. I mean, we're all heading over the hill eventually, and the comedic absurdities of life don't stop once you get that AARP card. Warner Bros. has wisely put both Old Men films together on a single Blu-ray disc, and the high definition upgrade—not without problems, but far better than the full-frame DVDs—has given these movies a new lease on life. Recommended.
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