Relatively young actors playing old men is usually an excuse for some indulgent theatricals, and Matthau's 70-year-old is unfortunately no exception. George Burns was tempted out of retirement (when Jack Benny died) to appear alongside him in this Neil Simon comedy about two old boys reviving their vaudeville act - despite a mutual loathing - for the sake of posterity and a TV spectacular; a winning enough formula for a hit and a couple of Oscar nominations, but the film still disappoints. The ponderous direction is a good deal less spritely than the 80-year-old Burns, and though it correctly ignores the script's fumbling attempts to confront old age, it places far too much emphasis on the performances. Matthau overplays his grouchiness dreadfully. At least Burns is an old man, but more than that, his glint-eyed, deadpan performance is the only natural element in an otherwise contrived and over-theatrical picture.
Cast and crew
F Murray Abraham