year: 1975
cast: Walter Matthau, George Burns
writer: Neil Simon
director: Herbert Ross
rating: ***

Neil Simon stage play adaptation about two retired codgers who were once vaudeville performers with a chance to do one of their skits on a prime time variety show... if only they can get along long enough to do it. Walter Matthau is the grumpy lead whose acting is good but borders on a performance: at times you can tell he's acting. George Burns, playing his age, is the mellower of the two and the role fits him to a tee. Richard Benjiman, as Matthau's agent and nephew, does everything he can to get "Lewis and Clark" together for the show... it will help his career and perhaps give Matthau some dignity. But Matthau wants nothing to do with Burns and vice versa. By the time we see them auditioning and then performing their skit the film has pretty much run its course. Matthau's character is a little too neurotic and you just want him to go away. The skit involving a doctor (Matthau), a tax collector (Burns), and a busty blonde (Lee Meredith) seems like a mediocre SCTV bit and leaves the viewer wondering why they were popular in the first place. But Neil Simon's dialog flows neatly and the transition of stage play to film is well balanced by director Herbert Ross. And keep an eye out for F. Murray Abraham, years before he kills Mozart, as an edgy auto mechanic.

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