Grumpy Old Men (film)
|Grumpy Old Men|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Donald Petrie|
|Produced by||John Davis
Richard C. Berman
|Written by||Mark Steven Johnson|
|Music by||Alan Silvestri|
|Cinematography||John E. Jensen|
|Edited by||Bonnie Koehler|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
Grumpy Old Men is a 1993 American romantic comedy-drama film starring Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau and Ann-Margret, with Burgess Meredith, Daryl Hannah, Kevin Pollak, Ossie Davis and Buck Henry. Directed by Donald Petrie, the screenplay was written by Mark Steven Johnson, who also wrote the sequel, Grumpier Old Men (1995). The original music score was composed by Alan Silvestri. This was the sixth film starring both Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau and their first on-screen pairing since 1981's Buddy Buddy.
Retirees John Gustafson (Lemmon) and Max Goldman (Matthau) are longtime rivals and next-door neighbors in Wabasha, Minnesota. Their rivalry began decades earlier when John married Max's high school sweetheart, May. John had an unhappy marriage with her for 20 years and had two children: a daughter, Melanie(Darryl Hannah) and son, Brian. Max went on to marry Amy and had a son, Jacob(Kevin Pollack). Despite their differences, both men lead boring and lonely single lives, and share a love for ice fishing, as well as competing, arguing, insulting, and pulling cruel practical jokes on each other. However, John has a problem that Max doesn't: he owes tens of thousands of dollars in back taxes to the Internal Revenue Service, and is going to great lengths to avoid agent Elliot Snyder (Buck Henry).
When beautiful college professor Ariel Truax (Ann-Margret) moves in across the street, Max and John's rivalry is renewed as they compete for her attention. Early on, Ariel spends time with Max, which secretly angers John. While fighting with Max, John inadvertently opens the door to find Agent Snyder and is forced to meet with him. Things do not end all badly for John, however: Ariel decides to cook him dinner and spend the evening together.
As Ariel spends more and more time with John, Max becomes angry, eventually ramming his truck into John's fishing shanty to push it into the lake. Convinced Max has gone too far this time, John confronts him. Max accuses John of stealing Ariel away like he did with May. Angered, John points out May's sexual prowess and thought he was saving Max from an unhappy marriage. He reminds Max that he was better off with Amy because she was a loving and loyal wife. Max agrees with John but still hasn't forgiven him for it. He reminds John that he will have no way to support her when the IRS takes his house. Max's attempt at shame works, and John breaks up with Ariel despite having fallen in love with her. Ariel is offended and eventually takes up with Max while John sinks into a deep depression.
Christmas Eve arrives, and John's depression comes to a head. Angered over the fact that Melanie has forgiven Michael, John's son-in-law, whom he's not fond of, he confronts her and tells her to go through the divorce, or she will never be happy again. After a fight with his son-in-law over his mistreatment of Melanie, John tells Michael to leave and never come back. He storms out of the house and heads to the local bar. Max's son, Jacob, witnesses the end of the argument and convinces Max to go talk to John. At the bar, John eventually admits to Max that he loves Ariel and believes Max doesn't understand the depression he felt in having to let her go. However, he also says it does not make any difference because Max got what he wanted, and decides to head home. Max, unsatisfied, follows John into the snow, wanting to make things right. By the time Max catches up to John, he finds him in a snow drift, experiencing a massive heart attack. After seeing John in the hospital, Max decides to tell Ariel what happened the next morning. She rushes to his bedside, and the two reconcile as he recovers.
Max tries to help John with his taxes, but because of the penalties induced by late payments, Snyder informs him that John owes $57,000 and the only way he could pay it off is if they sell his house. Angered by Snyder's lack of sympathy, Max pays him back with an old fish prank, having his newly elected mayor son, Jacob, to cancel the sale by banning him from entering the house and an old snow pile trick.
Winter turns to spring, and John and Ariel get married. As a wedding gift, Max reveals to John that he was able to get his tax debt reduced to what he originally owed and that he paid it off himself. The day and the film end with Max heading off to a local dance at the VFW, leaving Jacob alone in the house. As luck would have it, Melanie is also home by herself and the two decide to make an attempt to find romance with each other.
The screenplay of Grumpy Old Men was written by Mark Steven Johnson, a film student at Winona State University (Minnesota) and was based upon the life of noted Winona State theater professor Vivian Fusillo. The character of Max Goldman was based on former KWNO radio station owner and announcer Rod Hurd, who was dating Ms. Fusillo for a period in the 1970s.
- Jack Lemmon as John Gustafson Jr.
- Walter Matthau as Max Goldman
- Ann-Margret as Ariel Truax
- Burgess Meredith as John Gustafson Sr.
- Daryl Hannah as Melanie Gustafson
- Kevin Pollak as Jacob Goldman
- Ossie Davis as Chuck (Bait Shop Owner)
- Buck Henry as Elliott Snyder (IRS Agent)
- Christopher McDonald as Mike
- Steve Cochran as Weatherman
- Joe Howard as Pharmacist
Grumpy Old Men was one of the biggest surprise hits of the year at the time of its release. The film opened on December 25, 1993 with a weekend gross of $3,874,911. However, its numbers gradually became stronger, earning a domestic total of $70 million, well above its budget of $35 million.
The film was met with mixed to positive reviews by critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 65 percent of 37 critics have given the film a positive review, with a rating average of 5.8 out of 10.
Caryn James of The New York Times called the film "the kind of holiday movie a lot of people are searching for." He went on to explain that this is because "It's cheerful, it's well under two hours and it doesn't concern any major social blights, unless you think Jack Lemmon tossing a dead fish into Walter Matthau's car is cause for alarm." Despite rating it with two stars out of four, and giving it a mixed review about the film's credibility and diction, Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times concluded his review by saying that "Matthau and Lemmon are fun to see together, if for no other reason than just for the essence of their beings." Peter Rainer of the Los Angeles Times said, "Watching Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau sparring with each other in Grumpy Old Men is like watching an old vaudeville routine for the umpteenth time." Rainer added, "They play off their tics and wheezes with the practiced ease of old pros but there's something a bit too chummy and self-congratulatory about it all."
American Film Institute recognition:
Grumpy Old Men was first released on DVD on June 25, 1997. On August 22, 2006, the film was made available in a DVD "Double Feature" pack along with its sequel Grumpier Old Men. On July 7, 2009, the film was made available by itself on Blu-ray. The "Double Feature" pack was later released onto Blu-ray on February 23, 2010. The Blu-ray releases marked the first time both films have been available in widescreen since the LaserDisc releases. None of the Blu-ray releases contain any special features.
- "In a class all her own".
- "Not Grumpy or Old". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 1, 2012.
- "Weekend Box Office : 'Mrs. Doubtfire' Still Cleaning Up". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 1, 2012.
- "Grumpy Old Men (1993) - Box Office Mojo". IMDB. Box Office Mojo. Retrieved September 12, 2012.
- "Grumpy Old Men". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 21, 2016.
- Caryn James (December 24, 1993). "Review/Film; Cheerful, Short and No Big Blights". The New York Times. Retrieved June 1, 2012.
- Roger Ebert (December 24, 1993). "Grumpy Old Men :: rogerebert.com :: Reviews". Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved June 1, 2012.
- Peter Rainer (December 25, 1993). "MOVIE REVIEW : 'Grumpy': Hearts, Flowers, Whoopee Cushions". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 1, 2012.
- "AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved June 30, 2012.
- Broadwater, Casey (March 17, 2010). "Grumpy Old Men / Grumpier Old Men Blu-ray Review". Blu-ray.com. Retrieved September 13, 2012.
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