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The Out-of-Towners Review

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Ohio ad exec Henry Clark is going through a standard mid-life crisis; his youngest kid has just left home, leaving him with only whiny, irritating wife and former business partner, Nancy, for company. His career looks likely to hit the rocks too so a job interview in New York promises the pair the chance to escape their fiftysomething rut, but their trip to the big city is beset by the sort of disasters

★★★★★

Released here after what seems like an eternity in limbo, and presumably to cash in on Steve Martin's renewed credibility since the seriously funny Bowfinger, this curiously old-fashioned remake of the 1970 Jack Lemmon/Sandy Dennis comedy veers more towards the Martin movies of late - in which he actually gets to act rather than do his wild and crazy thing.

Here - as Ohio ad exec Henry Clark - he's going through a standard mid-life crisis; his youngest kid has just left home, leaving him with only whiny, irritating wife and former business partner, Nancy (Hawn), for company.

Meanwhile, his employers of 23 years have decided to let him go in favour of younger talent. A job interview in New York promises the pair the chance to escape their fiftysomething rut, but their trip to the big city is beset by the sort of disasters that only ever happen in dumb comedies like this.

They are mugged (by a Brit claiming to be Andrew Lloyd-Webber), chased by a really big dog, have sex in front of the mayor, get arrested and, in one arrestingly bizarre sequence, discover the (amazingly short-lived) effects of hallucinogens.

This bumps and grinds along pleasantly enough to its inevitably happy ending, with a smattering of nice moments - Martin's tussle with an airport vending machine provides some superb physical comedy, there's a nice set-piece involving a horny Hollywood agent (McKinney), and Cleese livens things up as an unsympathetic New York hotelier, a kind of portly, middle-aged Basil Fawlty.

However, the story takes some swallowing, expecting us to believe that an advertising executive of some repute could possibly find himself at odds with a big city or, indeed, that well-off Midwesterners (which they evidently are if their house is anything to go by) would behave so naively outside their natural habitat.

And Hawn's character, a stark reminder of what Meg Ryan is waiting to mature into, is so disarmingly brainless at times that it's hard to believe she ever held down a job in the first place.

In the end, it's perfectly watchable, but, as with Housesitter, you can't help thinking it should have been so much more.

This bumps and grinds along predictably but pleasantly enough to its inevitably happy ending, with a smattering of nice moments