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STUDIO:  Paramount Home Video    
MSRP: $24.99
RATING: G
RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES:

  • Commentary by Charlie Matthau and Chris Lemmon
  • In the Beginning… featurette
  • Inside the Odd Couple featurette
  • Matthau & Lemmon featurette
  • Memories From the Set featurette
  • The Odd Couple: a Classic featurette
  • Production and movie picture galleries
  • Theatrical trailer


The Pitch

Oscar is a slob and Felix has numerous compulsive disorders. They do fine as friends, but when Felix moves into Oscar’s pad tensions run high and the meatloaf gets burned!

The Humans

Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau



The Nutshell


Felix just got booted out of the house by his wife. The only person he can turn to is his poker buddy Oscar, a sports writer with a penchant for cigars and sloppiness. Felix Shows up at Oscar’s place ready to end it all, but Oscar has another plan. He lets Felix stay with him , figuring that it would do them both good. But Oscar soon finds out that letting an obsessive clean freak with an allergic reactions to everything who is also prone to fits of crying over his divorce may have been a bit more than he bargained for.

The Lowdown

Ah, the buddy picture. Two actors that work so well as a pair that their mere presence together on screen makes the movie worth watching. There are many combinations of actors that have the charisma to do a buddy picture, but for my money no two people are better onscreen together than Matthau and Lemon in The Odd Couple. Their chemistry onscreen is undeniable and the writing, by Neil Simon is top shelf stuff.



Buddy pictures of late seem to be centered around a meeting between two radically different types of people. Lethal Weapon’s Martin and Riggs would have probably never been friends had they not been forced to partner up together and neither would have the characters from the Rush Hour series, but Oscar (Matthau) and Felix (Lemmon) were friends before circumstances led to them living together, and much of the humor comes from the fact that they do know each others’ ticks. Oscar realizes that Felix is a hypochondriac clean freak that can’t sit still, but opens his dirty home to him anyway. Felix knows that Oscar is the type of guy who will clean up a beer spill with bread from one of his sandwiches rather than get a towel, but is thankful for the offer his friend made to him and agrees to stay. It’s a pretty simple setup, but it pays off huge dividends within the first few minutes and keeps you laughing till the end.



It’s this simplicity in storytelling that benefits The Odd Couple so much. Simon, who adapted the film script from his Broadway hit of the same name keeps things light and speedy for most of the films running time. There are no car chases and Oscar and Felix don’t have to bring down a drug kingpin or anything like that. In fact, the movie rarely leaves Oscar’s apartment. The humor comes from the mundane, everyday situations that Simon puts his characters into. You wouldn’t think a conversation about the intricacies of cooking meatloaf would be funny, but the way Simon writes it and the way that the actors deliver those lines make it comedy gold. But the characters aren’t just there to deliver jokes. Simon wisely humanizes Felix and Oscar with scenes that show them as people with genuine feelings and, despite their bickering, a real concern for each other that the newer crop of buddy pictures just don’t get into with as much finesse.



Without Simon, the script wouldn’t have been as clever as it is, but without Lemmon and Matthau to sell the story, the movie would not be the classic that it is today. On screen they act with each other as if they have been these characters for years. Matthau had worked on the stage version, so he was already pretty comfortable playing Oscar, but Lemmon was replacing Art Carney, who played Felix on Broadway. Lemmon picks up the role perfectly and matches Matthau step for step in every scene. Their banter back and forth is rapid fire as Oscar bellows out his frustration with Felix in a baritone voice that only Matthau could do while Felix stutters and stammers out his frustrations, all the while staying one step behind Oscar in an attempt to clean up every mess he makes as it occurs.

Lemmon and Matthau have made many films together. They reteamed for the Grumpy Old Men franchise and even made The Odd Couple II (more road trip, less funny), and while all of their work together is usually entertaining, it doesn’t come close to greatness of  what these two actors achieved with this film. If you like a good buddy picture and have never seen this movie, then don’t read any further, just go get a copy of The Odd Couple and watch some masters at work.



The Package

This new release of The Odd Couple is part of Paramount Pictures “Centennial Edition” series. The picture looks beautiful for a forty year old movie and there are also options for 5.1 digital audio. The extras are also very well done, but not perfect. You get nearly a half dozen “making of” featurettes that are decent, but never really do more than scratch the surface of the making of the movie. There is also a commentary track on the film from Chris Lemmon and Charlie Matthau, the sons of the lead actors, in which they discuss the film, but it never gets very far beyond the “my dad loved working with your dad” sort of thing. What’s really missing in the extras is interviews with the three things that made the film so great; the writer and the two leads.

                                                           9 out of 10