The Out-of-towners

on April 02, 1999 by Kristan Ginther
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   Within the first five minutes of "The Out-of-Towners," it is obvious that this remake bears only a passing resemblance to the classic 1970 film starring Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennis. Whereas the original, which was written by Neil Simon and directed by Arthur Hiller, used pitch-black humor to create a New York City that was not just uninviting to the titular characters but downright nightmarish, the 1999 version loves the Big Apple. Henry and Nancy Clark (Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn) are on an adventure as opposed to being in hell.
   The Clarks travel to New York because Henry has an interview with an advertising agency. Things turn crazy almost immediately when the plane is rerouted to Boston. After numerous Beantown mishaps, the Clarks finally rent a car and drive to New York. Within 24 hours, they get into a car accident, are mugged, and accidentally have sex at Tavern on the Green in front of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, among other things. During the insanity, they repeatedly try to convince a snooty hotel manager, Mr. Mersault (John Cleese), to give them a break--to no avail.
   With expertly directed action sequences and dialogue with a '90s sensibility (save for a couple of instances of forced pathos), director Sam Weisman and screenwriter Marc Lawrence have crafted a kinder, gentler film without sanitizing it. Also, as they proved in 1992's "Houseguest," Martin and Hawn have wonderful screen chemistry.
   You truly believe that they are an old married couple who don't quite know how to relate to one another after 27 years together. And for all the John Cleese fans in the world, he once again proves that he is a comic genius(c)(c)even if the role doesn't match his talent. "The Out-of-Towners" may not venture into new comedic territory, but it is an enjoyable and humorous excursion. Starring Steve Martin, Goldie Hawn and John Cleese. Directed by Sam Weisman. Written by Marc Lawrence. Produced by Robert Cort, David Madden, Robert Evans and Teri Schwartz. A Paramount release. Comedy. Rated PG-13 for some sex and drug(c)related humor. Running time: 90 min
Tags: Steve Martin, Goldie Hawn, John Cleese, Sam Weisman, Marc Lawrence, Robert Cort, David Madden, Robert Evans, Teri Schwartz, Paramount, Comedy
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