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Linda-Marie Singer is the Movie Maven

The Show Biz Maven

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Linda-Marie Singer - Click to Enlarge THE ODD COUPLE II
Kvetching Again
Click to Enlarge Reviewed by Show Biz Maven

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Seventeen years. Can it be that long since Felix Ungar and Oscar Madison - one of entertainment's best loved sparring partners - have been without one another? Before we delve into whatever psychological reasons have kept them apart, listen to the Shobzmaven: Sometimes it's better to leave well enough alone. On second thought, Felix and Oscar were never well enough alone. So why shouldn't playwright Neil Simon have them kvetching at each other again?

Starring funnymen Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon, THE ODD COUPLE II fast forwards thirty years where they both have led separate but predictable lives. Felix, the world's greatest nudnick, does part-time charity work cheering people up. Knowing his picayunish side, he obviously aggravates more patients than helps. Meanwhile, Oscar fills his days playing poker with widows hoping to hook their King of Hearts. Without close inspection we know that the deck of cards looks like it should be sanitized, while the food…

Now in their seventies, the mismatched duo meets up again in California while attending the same wedding. It's clear that Felix would rather that his pretty daughter not marry Oscar's unconventional son, but then there wouldn't be any reason for them to connect. Anyone who has to ask why bother is either too busy moping over Leonardo DiCaprio, or is forgetting the lopsided chemistry when the roommates long ago shared a New York apartment. Even then, Felix, a maniacal clean freak, and Oscar, a sloppy Joe, were truly incompatible, and yet their "mishugass" made them a loveable, odd couple.

Maybe that's why their rendezvous at the airport is all too contrived from Oscar's messy suitcase spilling out all over the carousel, to Felix's valise daintily arriving in saran-wrap. Once they get into their rental car, neither has a clue where to go. According to Neil Simon, "California on the road has got to be as foreign as Tibet to Felix and Oscar." Understandably, it would take the Dalai Lama to lead the way with Felix chanting prayers and Oscar humming a refrain from "Hello, Dolly!"

The movie's scenario wouldn't shock an eel: They manage to destroy their car, get arrested, fandangle with a pair of rowdy bikers (Christine Baranski and Jean Smart), and befriend an eccentric Rolls Royce owner (Barnard Hughes) who dies giving them a lift to their wedding.

"In the story, everything that could go wrong does," explains director Howie Deutch. "Felix gets to drive Oscar insane, which is his favorite thing in the world to do. And Oscar is excited by the adventure of taking this trip, being in the action. It puts him back where he hasn't been for years, making life miserable for Felix."

What's miserable now for Lemmon is his latest facelift that causes a strange sound to emit whether he's laughing or pouting. What's more, although your Maven did not have on her lorgnette, she could swear that Lemmon has false teeth which seem to race ahead of him at times. As for Matthau with his black shoe polish-like hair, perhaps he should have followed the advice of the Shobzmaven's dear friend Jose Eber who would have recommended something in magenta or teal. Pity that Eber was busy putting the finishing touches on "Godzilla,"and this is what can happen in Hollywood when hair stylists are given such independence.

Speaking of freedom, it's refreshing how even shuffling geezers can get top billing in a good old-fashioned comedy not involving double suicides, 50 foot fanged monsters, or planetary snuffing. Leave that to the younger boys who wouldn't know a Lemmon from a lemon.

With love & knishes from your Show Biz Maven.

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