Out to Sea

on July 04, 1997 by Wade Major
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   In their first non-"Grumpy" pairing since the 1993 reteaming that earned them a new generation of fans, Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon head "Out to Sea" to once again prove that flab, ear hair and enlarged prostates are no obstacles to attracting beautiful and sexy women.
   Only in the movies.
   The hijinks begin when chronic gambler Charlie (Matthau) cons his widowed brother-in-law Herb (Lemmon) into joining him on a Caribbean cruise, on which Charlie plans to seduce a woman of sufficient means to support his habit. What Charlie hasn't told Herb is that he enrolled them as dance hosts to avoid paying for the cruise. Under the watchful eye of fascistic cruise director Gil Godwyn ("ID4's" Brent Spiner), Herb eventually learns to enjoy his duties, feeling something of "that old feeling" rekindled when he meets a kindred spirit in a grief-stricken widow (Gloria DeHaven). Charlie, meanwhile, pulls every trick in the book to sidestep dancing duties and instead target his wiles on beautiful and wealthy heiress Liz LaBreche ("8 Heads in a Duffel Bag's" Dyan Cannon).
   Although the romantic twists and turns that follow are fairly obvious to anyone who saw even 10 minutes of TV's "The Love Boat," Matthau and Lemmon's effortless charms and impeccable timing keep things brisk and lively throughout. Unlike their previous efforts, however, the actors here thrive less on their interaction with each other than on their respective romantic entanglements, allowing for a more diverse collection of dramatic and comic possibilities than either "Grumpy Old Men" or its sequel. Matthau in particular succeeds brilliantly in what is arguably his funniest performance in years, equal parts broad physical comedy and irresistible dry wit.
   For director Martha Coolidge ("Three Wishes"), "Out to Sea" marks a welcome and successful return to the breezy comedic sensibilities she first displayed in her debut film, "Valley Girl." Supporting cast members also shine brightly, including Donald O'Connor and Hal Linden as fellow dance hosts, Elaine Stritch as Cannon's mother, Rue McClanahan as the cruise line's owner and Edward Mulhare as Matthau's rival for Cannon's affections. Other credits are serviceable, with the exception of David Newman's superior score.    Starring Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Dyan Cannon, Gloria DeHaven, Brent Spiner, Elaine Stritch, Hal Linden, Donald O'Connor, Edward Mulhare and Rue McClanahan. Directed by Martha Coolidge. Written by Robert Nelson Jacobs. Produced by John Davis and David T. Friendly. A Fox release. Comedy. Rated PG-13 for language and sex-related humor. Running time: 105 min.
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