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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Out-of-Towners
The Out-of-Towners
Paramount // G // November 25, 2003
List Price: $19.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted December 1, 2003 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

Neil Simon is one of the most prolific and consistently funny American playwrights.  Starting his career writing for Sid Caesar on Your Show of Shows, Simon learned his craft in the high pressure world of live TV. In the early sixties he turned to writing plays, and was an instant success.  Several of his plays were turned into hit movies (Barefoot in the Park, Sweet Charity) and in 1970 he decided to write an original screenplay, The Out-of-Towners.

George Kellerman (Jack Lemon) is about to hit the big time.  After years of hard work he is up for a promotion to Vice President of a large plastics corporation.  The job will mean a big raise in salary and all the perks that executives get.  All he has to do is fly to New York City to meet with the president of the firm at 9:00 the next day and the job will be his.  So George and his wife Gwen (Sandy Dennis) leave their small Ohio town and head for the Big Apple.  Unfortunately, everything that can possibly go wrong, does.

After circling around NY for hours, the airport gets fogged in, so the plane is diverted to Boston.  That wouldn't be too bad, but their luggage doesn't show up in Boston with them.   Things go from bad to worse as they try to get to New York, get to their room, and show up for the meeting on time.

Sort of a cross between Planes, Trains, and Automobiles and After Hours, The Out-of-Towners keeps raising the stakes.  Every time something goes wrong, you think that they have finally reached the bottom, and that nothing worse can happen.  Except it does.  It just keeps getting worse and worse for these two poor tourists.

Jack Lemon does a superb job as George.  His comedic timing is absolutely impeccable, and he plays that character wonderfully.  George has a lot of nervous energy at the beginning, excited and proud that he's about to get the job of his dreams.  Instead of making George slowly get more and more angry as the situation deteriorates, Lemon has him blow up the first, and every, time something goes wrong.  He puts his heart into each explosion, and it makes the movie.  You know George is going to scream "I've got you on my list!" after each perceived slight, and that makes it all the more humorous.

Sandy Dennis was an excellent choice for George's compliant wife.  She tries to make the best out of a bad situation and is calm for the most part.  She has the best running joke in the movie, exclaiming "Oh my God!" every time another disaster befalls the poor couple.  She is the perfect counterpoint to George's rantings and tantrums.

There are many good actors in bit parts throughout the movie.  Be sure to look for Billy Dee Williams as the lost and found clerk, and Jonny Brown (a Rowan and Martin regular) as the waiter.

The movie is funny, but it is not a laugh-a-minute comedy.  The humor builds over the course of the film.  The whole movie is like one big running gag.  As the main characters get into more and more trouble, it becomes more and more humorous.  Near the end you are smiling thinking "What else can go wrong."  When something does, it's just funny.  The fact that these are decent people who don't deserve the problems they are having just adds to the absurdity of it all.

The Out-of-Towners is about people who have no control over their environment.  They are having a horrible time, and they can't stop the bad things from happening.  I know there are some people who feel uncomfortable watching this type of film, and if that description fits you, you might want to take a pass.
 


The DVD:



Audio:

This DVD has both an English sound track and a French dub.  Both are in stereo.  There are English subtitles also.

The sound track has been cleaned up nicely.  It is clear and clean with only the slightest defects.  The dynamic range is not great, and the one explosion seemed flat compared to explosions in movies with a dedicated subwoofer channel.   If you take into account that this movie is practically all dialog, you see that there isn't much reason to have a large dynamic range.  It sounds very good for a 30 year old film.

Video:

The picture quality is very good on this DVD.  The widescreen anamorphic transfer was from a good print.  There were some dirt and flecks on the movie here and there, but the colors were accurate, and the digital artifacts were kept to a minimum.  Paramount did a very good job with the disc, especially considering that it is not a large title.  I've seen a lot of more recent movies that did not look as good.

The Extras:

The extras were disappointing.  There weren't any.  I think a trailer should be mandatory on theatrically released films, and I was disappointed that one wasn't present.

Final Thoughts:

There are a lot of people who are put off by movies where anxiety and tension are a central theme.  If After Hours made you nervous, this move may not be for you.   If you can laugh at the misfortunes of others, this Neil Simon comedy is recommended.

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