Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Must-See Movie: The Odd Couple

The Odd Couple (1968)
My favorite Neil Simon play and film, this movie pits Jack Lemmon (one of the most fantastic actors ever) against Walter Matthau.

The basic story is not unusual, but the dialogue and acting make it outstanding. Divorcee Oscar (played by Matthau) is concerned about his poker buddy Felix (played by Lemmon) and the recent disolution of his marriage. Oscar kindly offers to take him in, not realizing the many small annoyances of Felix that will soon drive him crazy.

The dialogue between the two of them is quick-witted and hilarious. Oscar's onslaught of wry comments to Felix is unstoppable. He holds nothing back when expressing his frustration:

I can't take it anymore, Felix, I'm cracking up. Everything you do irritates me. And when you're not here, the things I know you're gonna do when you come in irritate me. You leave me little notes on my pillow. Told you 158 times I can't stand little notes on my pillow. "We're all out of cornflakes. F.U." Took me three hours to figure out F.U. was Felix Ungar!

(See the IMDb quotes page for some more quick quips.) Usually a movie is confining when set in one place for a majority of the time, but this movie (set primarily in their shared apartment) is far from restrictive. With visits from the poker buddies and the Cuckoo Pigeon sisters, you never get that play-turned-movie clausterphobic feeling, because even the supporting cast is extremely entertaining.

Oscar is not just a laid-back man, he is a slob. And Felix is not just neat, he's an obsessive-compulsive freak. Put the two together in an apartment and you have The Odd Couple.

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