The Odd Couple

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

There’s an old phrase that says “opposites attract,” but don’t tell that to Oscar Madison (Walter Matthau) or Felix Unger (Jack Lemmon). These two divorced men decided to share an apartment, but they had no idea the wealth of problems that would follow that choice. But this arrangement started of well enough, right after Felix and his wife parted paths. Felix was in shambles after his marriage fell apart and was even thinking about suicide, but Oscar took him under his wing and even offered him a place to crash. Now Oscar’s place is a large eight room apartment, but even that space will prove too small for these two. You see, Felix is a neat freak with all sorts of allergies and such, which contrasts with Oscar, who is a walking mess and has no concept of cleaning up his place. The smallest problems will tumble into larger ones, which means these two will be at each other’s throats for some time. But underneath all the fussing and fighting, there has to be some kinship…right?

This is one I’ve been waiting for, as I simply love the antics of Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, especially in The Odd Couple films. The sequel fell short of the greatness found in this film, but I was happy just to see characters back in action after so much off time. This movie is one of the finest comedies of all time, with some of the best writing you’ll find, thanks to the pen of Neil Simon. The dialogue is excellent in The Odd Couple, especially when tempers flare and our leads always deliver those lines to perfection. This film is about two normal fellows with some abnormal traits, so I am glad the leads play them as average guys, as too much might have spoiled the characters. The dialogue seems to flow from the actors, which adds a lot to the impact of the lines and hence, the comedy is that much funnier in the end. If you’ve only seen the sequel, this film has less in terms of physical gags and such, but much more effective dialogue and character work, which is much better to me. I think this disc deserves at least a rental from all comedy fans, although for me, this disc is going right into my private collection.

This film is fueled by the performances and chemistry of Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. These two have such a unique and natural bond between them on screen, it is no wonder they’ve went on to make several other films together. Lemmon (Some Like It Hot, The China Syndrome) seems like the perfect choice to play the anal retentive Felix, his vocal patterns and mannerisms never stumble even a tad here. As Lemmon’s foil here is Matthau (The Couch Trip, The Sunshine Boys), who is just as rich a match for the sloppy, crude Oscar. Their individual efforts here are superb to be sure, but it is their tandem work that steals this movie in the end. The two work off each other very well and that gives the characters and events a sense of realism. We can believe their bickering and complaining, but we can also see through all that and know there’s more than meets the eye. Other films these two paired in includes The Odd Couple II, Out to Sea, Grumpy Old Men, and Grumpier Old Men. The hilarious dialogue these two banter about was penned by Neil Simon, who based his screenplay on his own play of the same name. Simon also worked on such movies as Barefoot In The Park, The Out-Of-Towners, The Cheap Detective, The Lonely Guy, Lost In Yonkers, and The Odd Couple II.

Video: How does it look?

The Odd Couple II is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. This looks very good for an older film, but some age related issues do emerge in the image. I saw more nicks and debris than I expected and to a lesser extent, some of the colors look a little washed out. Overall though, this looks good for a film that is over thirty years old, so I won’t complain that much. The colors seem a little dull at times, but still look natural and never bleed, while flesh tones appear normal as well. A small amount of grain appears in the darker scenes, but aside from that, no errors within the contrast surface. I wish this was cleaner of course, but this is still a fine overall transfer.

Audio: How does it sound?

This disc sports a newly minted Dolby Digital 5.1 track, which is really more of a front based mix in the end. The music uses the surrounds sometimes, but since the dialogue dominates the audio, the front channels handle most of the load. The basic sound effects come off in decent form and the main focus, the dialogue, is clean and crisp all the way to the end credits. There’s not much else to discuss here, as the dialogue is the main component of this mix and it sounds very good. The disc also houses English & French mono options, as well as English subtitles.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This disc includes the film’s theatrical trailer.

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