The Odd Couple (1968)
Directed by Gene Saks
8 out of 10
I love films that explore characters that are polar opposites. Often they are engaging, insightful and revelatory. Other times, for lack of all seriousness, they can be very funny. That is the case with Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple directed by Gene Saks based on Simon’s play. It was released in theaters in 1968. Simon creates a vivid, funny and nostalgic comedic universe with The Odd Couple. The two actors chosen to be the polar opposites are the funny bone of this timeless screwball comedy. Jack Lemmon plays Felix Unger, an obsessive-compulsive neat freak who tries desperately to kill himself as a result of the impending end of his marriage.
Suffice it to say that he doesn’t successfully kill himself but ends up hurting his back in the process. Here in lies the root of the comedy. Felix is a typical overbearing hypochondriac. When his friend Oscar Madison, played with perfection by Walter Matthau, asks him to stay with him, the hilarity ensues. Oscar, a sports writer, is a lazy, slovenly, messy, cigar smoking mess. Put these two together and we get Neil Simon at his comedic best. Felix and Oscar clash. Big time.
What ensues is amazing to watch. Perfect pitch timing from both Matthau and Lemmon. Felix overly polishes and cleans and Oscar relishes being the slob. Oscar as well is put off by Felix’s constant depression and health troubles. For example-when Felix tries to unclog his ears he makes a loud, deep and startling noise that sends Oscar through the roof. This is team comedy at it’s best and the rest of the ensemble that consists of divorced, slovenly gamblers are great to watch as they interact with Matthau and Lemmon. Neal Hefti provides a great score which won an oscar. Highly recommended. Enjoy.