A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Neil Simon's The Odd Couple is Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau at the top of their "buddy" game. The movie has some grown-up plot elements (divorce, contemplation of suicide), but it's always lighthearted, focusing on character rather than jokes, and the farcical moments are very funny without being highly exaggerated. Though there's a certain amount of sophistication to the snappy dialogue and opposites-attract humor, the perennial slob and the fastidious hypochondriac are amusing on many levels. Older kids and teens who appreciate classic comedies and wonderful performances will find much to like. Made in the 1960s, the movie has smoking (both cigars and cigarettes), a brief scene with scantily clad go-go dancers, and some mild sexual innuendo, and "hell" and "damn" are heard several times.
What's the story?
Poor Felix Ungar (Jack Lemmon). In THE ODD COUPLE, Felix's marriage is over, and he's devastated. Half-hearted efforts to do away with himself are highly unsuccessful, and so, distraught, he shows up at his weekly poker game held at best friend Oscar Madison's house. Felix's poker buddies are wholly sympathetic. Oscar (Walter Matthau) even offers him a home. But it's not an easy transition for either man. Oscar, a certifiable slob whose apartment is overrun with dirty dishes, old food, trash, and scattered laundry, can't abide the hypochondriac Felix's compulsive need for order and cleanliness. Sparks fly; differences threaten to quickly upend the best friends' relationship. Things reach a climax when Oscar plans an evening with two British beauties who live in the apartment upstairs. The Oscar-Felix relationship is on the verge of becoming as disastrous as the two failed marriages the men left behind.
Is it any good?
The dialogue is witty; the characters are wonderfully stereotypical; and comic timing is everything in this movie. But the extraordinary performances top all else, even making what might seem to be a slightly dated premise and execution feel fresh and entertaining. Jack Lemmon's attempts to clear his sinuses in a busy restaurant may be one of the funniest sequences in film history. And together, the two exhibit a genuinely natural comic rhythm that went on to find them in many other iconic performances as a team. Based on Neil Simon's Broadway play (which has had enduring success over the years with both male and female actors in the central roles),The Odd Couple became a beloved television sitcom. The Odd Couple II, with Lemmon and Matthau reprising their original roles, was released in 1998.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what constitutes a "buddy comedy." What is it about the characters that makes the genre funny?
Look up the word cinematic. This film was adapted from a stage play. In that play, all the action took place in Oscar's apartment. How did the filmmakers try to expand the story to make it cinematic? Were they successful?
Suicide is a serious topic. In this movie, Felix's suicide threats were not meant to be taken seriously. Did you laugh at the silliness of his efforts? Do you think comedies can treat such issues in a way that isn't harmful or disrespectful?
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