Hollywood’s remaking Neil Simon movies now, and not exactly the best of the bunch. What? Did they run out of TV shows? (No, just creativity). Expect “Goodbye Girl 2000” with Jim Carrey and Michelle Pfeiffer any day now. … but for now, Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn are Henry and Nancy Clark from Ohio. After 24 years of marriage, the last of the kids is finally out of the house, and the pair just don’t know what to do with themselves. Henry’s lost his job at the advertising agency, and the only interview he can get is with a firm in New York City. The little woman decides to tag along.
Hard, though it may be, to believe, the trip just doesn’t go as expected. The couple end up on the streets of New York without their luggage, money, or wallets, desperate to get into their posh hotel, which is apparently “Fawlty Towers” with John Cleese’s manager character. Hilarity ensues.
The film… has some problems. Many of the gags, including a lot of slapstick, fall flat in the first hour. Martin and Hawn are both 53 years old, but are still called upon to do their schtick from the last 30 years. Martin, particularly, just doesn’t have the conviction anymore and desperately needs to go the Bill Murray route of modulated performances in real parts. He’s got the talent, but he seems to always end up in parts like this.
It’s a little frightening to watch Hawn be “bubbly” at her age and have her films continue to focus on what a nice a*s she has (It’s still holding up, though). Is she going to end up like Lucille Ball, who at age 75 was still dying her hair red and trying to do slapstick on a sitcom? Hawn’s got a daughter (Kate Hudson) who’s an up and coming ingenue, so maybe it’s time to play something else.
As for Cleese, how much did Paramount have to fork over to channel his second big television show? They even brought back some of the same guests. The only difference is the “secret hobby,” which you can probably determine from the movie’s posters, which proves his undoing. Even that detail is executed better by Udo Kier in “The Debtors”, to be released later this year.
The film finds some groove around the time Martin does in the last half an hour. Nothing is that interesting or funny until the old married couple stop being victims and take command of their problems. Until then, the audience cared for them about as much they did for each other.