February 8, 1994 -- ``Grumpy Old Men'' is a lot funnier than it sounds. It is a film about two crotchety old men played by Jack Lemon and Walter Matthau who have feuded for years.
The two play childish pranks on each other in a constant game of one-upsmanship. Some of the pranks are very funny. Under all the hostility, however, it is apparent that the two men really like each other, but they just can't get over that old grudge.
The old grudge was caused by competition over a woman. Another woman (Ann-Margret) appears on the block where the two men live and the old competition starts anew.
Matthau and Lemon are very believable as the feuding old men. Ann-Margret's character is interesting, but not as believable. Burgess Meredith, Ossie Davis and Darryl Hannah round out the fine cast.
Although there are plenty of good jokes and sight gags, the film works because it is first and foremost a character study and the two main characters really carry the film. The jokes work because they play off of the characters created and sustained by Matthau and Lemon.
The film works pretty well until the end when a rather cheap melodramatic trick is used to achieve an improbable happy ending. That's Hollywood for you, but most of the film is pretty well written, better than most comedies. It rates a B-.
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