The Odd Couple II
The Odd Couple II is the 1998 sequel to 1968's The Odd Couple. Written by Neil Simon (who also produced), the film reunites Jack Lemmon as Felix Ungar and Walter Matthau as Oscar Madison. The film was the actors' last together, and Simon's final screenplay. It is also significant among sequels for having one of the longest gaps between the release of the original and a sequel in which all leads return.
|The Odd Couple II|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Howard Deutch|
|Produced by||Neil Simon|
Robert W. Cort
|Written by||Neil Simon|
|Music by||Alan Silvestri|
|Edited by||Seth Flaum|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
The Odd Couple II was released in the United States on April 10, 1998. Each actor made only one more theatrical film after this: The Legend of Bagger Vance for Lemmon and Hanging Up for Matthau, in which neither actor played a leading role, both in 2000.
It has been 17 years since Oscar Madison and Felix Ungar have seen one another. Oscar is still hosting a regular poker game and is still an untidy slob, now living in Sarasota, Florida, but still a sportswriter. One day, he is called by his son Brucey with an invitation to California for his wedding the following Sunday. A second shock for Oscar—the woman his son is marrying is Felix's daughter, Hannah.
On the flight from New York to Los Angeles, it becomes clear that Felix has not changed his ways—he is still a fussy, allergy-suffering neat freak nuisance. Oscar and Felix are reunited at the airport and very happy to be together again after 17 years of separation—at least for a couple of minutes. They intend to share a rental car to San Malina for the wedding. But the trip begins with Oscar forgetting Felix's suitcase at the Budget car rental, including wedding gifts and wardrobe inside. Oscar also loses the directions to San Malina when his cigar ashes burn them.
He and Felix become hopelessly lost, unable to even remember the name of the town where they are headed, so many California city names sounding alike. They end up in a rural area, where the car rolls off a cliff and catches fire. If that were not enough, they get arrested several times by the local police, first for catching a ride in a truck carrying illegal Mexican immigrants. At a bar in town, they meet two extroverted women, Thelma and Holly, and buy them drinks. Accepting an offer of a ride from a stranger even older than themselves, Felix and Oscar end up inside a $150,000 vintage Rolls Royce Silver Wraith and trapped on the wrong side of the road when the stranger dies unexpectedly. Felix and Oscar are arrested a second time by the police.
Irritated, exhausted and convinced that they'll never get to the wedding, they get arrested yet again for consorting with armed reprobate Rednecks who believe Oscar and Felix were flirting with their wild women, Thelma and Holly. The boys are freed and driven directly to the local airport by the police, who are only too pleased to be rid of them, especially the sheriff. A woman boarding the airplane is also en route to the wedding and recognizes them. She is Felice Adams, the sister of Oscar's ex-wife, Blanche. Felix's eyes light up when he learns that her husband died of a heart attack. He calls her "Lise," which causes Oscar to ask Felix if she calls him "Lix."
They finally arrive at the right place, only to find that Brucey is having second thoughts about the wedding due to his parents' bad history with marriage. Felix and Oscar argue with their ex-spouses, after which Oscar persuades his son to go through with it. Felix's suitcase is returned and the wedding goes off without a hitch.
The next morning, Felix and Felice leave on one flight and part ways with Oscar, who returns to Florida. Oscar is telling his poker friends about the wedding when the doorbell rings. It is Felix, who says things with Felice didn't work out. Felix wonders if he could move in with Oscar until he finds his own place. Oscar refuses, but eventually relents, insisting their days of being roommates will be over if Oscar catches Felix matching any of his socks. Before long Felix cleans up the apartment and Oscar is overcome with a sense of having been through all this before.
Howard W. Koch, the producer of the original 1968 film by writer Neil Simon, had frequently discussed his desire for a sequel. Koch was unsuccessful in convincing Paramount Pictures to approve a sequel, despite the original film's success and the return of Simon as the writer. Simon had 37 pages written for The Odd Couple 2, which he said were left "sitting in the drawer" for 10 years. John Goldwyn and Paramount studio chairman Sherry Lansing began serious consideration of a sequel in July 1996, before announcing it on March 30, 1997, without the involvement of Koch; instead, Paramount chose Robert W. Cort and Dave Madden as producers for the project. Silverman, Baranski, and Hughes were cast in May 1997.
Filming began on June 9, 1997, in Los Angeles, California. Filming continued throughout the summer in various southern and central California cities, including Arcadia, Guadalupe, Lancaster, Palmdale, Pomona, San Luis Obispo, Santa Maria, and Shafter. In August 1997, filming was underway at the same Paramount Studios stage where the original film had been shot. Filming also took place at Hidden Valley, located in Ventura County, California. The film was shot with the title The Odd Couple II — Travelin' Light. The film marked the 10th collaboration between Lemmon and Matthau. Jean Smart described the characters of Thelma and Holly as "a bad '90s version of the Pigeon sisters," characters who appeared in the original film.
The film was a critical and commercial failure. Despite the fact Lemmon and Matthau had success with their Grumpy Old Men films in the mid-1990s, this project was not as successful as expected. The film grossed $18 million at the North American domestic box office, and although Lemmon and Matthau's previous film Out to Sea also disappointed, it was better received by critics and had a slightly higher box office gross.
It holds a total of 24% on Rotten Tomatoes. Stephen Holden of The New York Times called it "a dispiriting, flavorless travesty, the equivalent of moldy tofu mystery meat".
At the 1998 Stinkers Bad Movie Awards, the film was nominated for Worst Sequel and Most Painfully Unfunny Comedy.
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