It’s strange and a little bit solemn watching Grumpy Old Men today. Although the material is very much up front about it being set in the twilight of life, it’s still somewhat strange seeing it now with several of its stars, including the two titular grumps, having passed away. But that’s the immortality that film brings. So even though many of those involved are gone, their work stays behind for us to continue enjoying.
Legendary actors Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau play John Gustafson and Max Goldman, a pair of grouchy matriarchs who have grown up together with a distinctly love-hate relationship. Both are widows and rivals, still trying to one-up one another at every chance. Pranks, put-downs and tall tales are all fair game with John and Max, yet deep down you always get a sense that they’ve been through too much together over the years to not care for each other.
When the beautiful and free-spirited Ariel (Ann-Margaret) moves in across the street, both of the eligible elders are instantly enamored. The rivalry hits new heights as they compete for her affection. But it has been a while for both of them since they’ve wooed a member of the opposite sex.
Grumpy Old Men is a funny, often hilarious, film that proves that a story doesn’t need to be completely new just as long as there’s a spin on it to make it different. Stories of rivalry and courtship have likely been around since stories first began being told. However, the voice of the golden years is often left out at the cinema. Grumpy Old Men works, though, because it’s a timeless story that almost everyone, young or young with plenty of experience, can relate to in some fashion.
Lemmon and Matthau go way back. They share such a chemistry on screen that if you closed your eyes and let them speak they could probably finish each other’s sentences. They both do an amazing job of slinging mock after mock at one another, yet are still able to convey a sense that deep down their characters still care for one another. This is integral to the film as neither are meant to be a villain, per se, but rather a thorn in the other’s side.
Grumpy Old Men has a wonderful supporting cast as well. In particular Burgess Meredith is hilarious as John’s dad.. In fact, it’s one of the most memorable comedic roles I’ve ever seen. Every time he was on screen I laughed extremely hard. It’s not complex character. He’s a lot like Stifler from the American Pie franchise, only much, much older. But that’s what makes it funny. Grandpa Gustafson’s saying things that you don’t normally hear from seniors – at least when you’re watching a movie.
A part of me was sad watching Grumpy Old Men. My favourite actors in the film are all no longer with us. But there’s also a part of me that’s genuinely grateful that they left something behind that’s funny and heartfelt and can be enjoyed by new generations for a long, long time.
Grumpy Old Men Blu-ray Review
The Grumpy Old Men Blu-ray release is more a showcase for the film than a loaded release with plenty of bonus material. The film looks good its widescreen 1080p (1.85:1 aspect ratio) picture. And although audio is in Dolby TrueHD, it’s only in 2.0. There’s also an additional Dolby Digital 2.0 track. Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish. The only added content is the film’s theatrical trailer, shown in standard definition.
Grumpy Old Men Gallery