The Out-of-Towners is a remake of the 1970 Neil Simon comedy that originally starred Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennis. This remake from 1999 stars Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn as two empty nesters searching for a way to redefine their relationship. The film is rated PG-13 for some sex and drug-related humor.
Henry and Nancy Clark (Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn) live in relatively small town Ohio, and are definitely not big city types. Their home now bereft of children, when Henry gets a job interview in New York City, Nancy follows him. Her presence leads from one comical situation to another as their trip to the Big Apple unravels.
Steve and Goldie are such fine comedic actors that there are many, many laugh out loud moments in this film. Plus, you get to see New York through their eyes as they experience it for better or worse. Some scenes are pure slapstick, and the film is timeless in that any empty nester could relate to the thoughts and feelings they’re having as they redefine their lives without their children.
At one point they stumble in on a group therapy meeting by accident, and none other than Cynthia Nixon, of Sex and the City fame, plays one of the group members. In her short time on screen, she plays the sultry, sexual woman that she embodied so well as Miranda Hobbs in SATC. I could see exactly why she was selected for one of the best HBO series of all time.
One of the reasons for enjoying this film so much is Steve Martin. He is one of my favorite comedians. His facial expressions are so expressive, his smile spreading like the Cheshire cat. He is especially funny when he accidently gets high, much to his wife’s chagrin. Goldie is beautiful and plays off of Steve’s shenanigans in her unique style. Goldie justifiably won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1969 for her role in Cactus Flower. And as for Steve Martin, his career achievements are just too many to list, but my personal favorite is All of Me with Lily Tomlin.
Goldie’s real life son, Oliver Hudson, has a small role playing the Clarks’ son Alan. John Cleese appears as Mr. Mersault, a pompous hotel manager I couldn’t see being played by anyone else.
Neil Simon has written an honest portrayal of a couple going through big changes and how overcoming adversity serves to bring them together again. The craziness that the couple encounters in their travels in NYC are nonstop, and I can only imagine what fun he had writing the screenplay. He is an accomplished and awarded writer, in television (The Odd Couple), on Broadway (Biloxi Blues) and in films (The Goodbye Girl), not to mention having won the Pulitzer Prize for Lost in Yonkers.
I came across this film on streaming Netflix one night, and was glad we chose it. If you’re looking for a light, funny, classic comedy, this would be a good choice.