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Movie Review

Based loosely on a play by Neil Simon (later adapted for the big screen in 1970), this remake follows a Midwest couple as they attempt to negotiate two days in an unfamiliar big city. After losing his advertising job in Ohio, Henry Clark hops a plane to New York City where he's scheduled for a job interview the following day. Unbeknown to him, Nancy (unaware her husband has been fired) makes a last minute decision to join him on his trip, barely catching the plane before departure. When fog causes their plane to be rerouted to Boston, the Clarks face a series of trials on their way to the job interview. Although similarities to the 1970s version do occur (i.e., they're robbed, chased by an aggressive dog and wind up sleeping in Central Park), this new film departs significantly from its predecessors by repeatedly thrusting the Clarks into sexual situations—both as participants and observers of others' deviant behaviors.

Positive Elements: Situations played for comedic value (the first half of the film remains relatively clean) ultimately underscore how a couple facing the empty-nest period of their lives must learn to communicate more effectively.

Spiritual Content: Nancy reminds Henry that a certain guru's cassette tape they owned had unfortunately been accidentally destroyed before either had listened to it.

Sexual Content: Numerous. Nancy encounters a woman who operates an S&M (sadism and masochism) business. Various types of bondage apparatuses can be seen over the dominatrix' shoulder while she shouts to her customer, "You break that rack, you buy it!" When the Clarks crash a meeting in hopes of getting food, they find themselves in a coed group whose members are attempting to overcome various sexual addictions. One man admits to masturbating multiple times each day. One promiscuous woman tells Henry she'd like to bed him. A hungry Nancy pretends to seduce a man in a bar in order to order room service from his hotel suite. After discovering a hotel manager is a transvestite, the Clarks blackmail him for a free room. Henry and Nancy have sex in Central Park only to be spotlighted when Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and others participating in a lighting ceremony hit the switch. When high on drugs [see below], Henry lusts after a woman, suggesting to his wife that they participate in a ménage à trois.

Violent Content: A stickup man in New York City uses a gun to threaten the Clarks. A minor car accident, a dog chase and other such comedic violence comprise the balance of content in this category.

Crude or Profane Language: No f-words. But one use of b--ch. "Oh God" pops up several times, as does "She's got a great a--!"

Drug and Alcohol Content: After being arrested for public exposure (urinating), Henry is given what he believes to be an aspirin by one of his cell mates. The pill turns out to be a hallucinogen which results (for laughs) in erratic conversation and behavior. Wine is consumed at a restaurant and Nancy orders champagne in her hotel room, but it never arrives.

Other Negative Elements: A strong situational ethics message comes across. When things go well for the Clarks, they act decently. But when hungry, anything goes: Stealing. Seduction. Deceit.

Summary: Whereas the humor of the original Out-of-Towners was rooted in slapstick comedy and coaxing viewers into identifying with the characters' distress, this '99 version goes for laughs via sexual crudity and deviancy. My advice? Rent the Jack Lemmon/Sandy Dennis original film on video. And definitely skip this remake.

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Steve Martin as Henry Clark; Goldie Hawn as his wife Nancy; John Cleese as Mr. Mersault; Mark McKinney as Greg; Former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani as himself


Sam Weisman ( )


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