Fox // 1997 // 106 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // July 8th, 2004
Get ready to Rumba!
For Charlie Gordon (Walter Matthau, The Odd Couple), life is a series of gambles (usually horse races) and loses (ditto on the horse races). Charlie's brother-in-law Herb (Jack Lemmon, The Apartment) is a widower who spends his anniversary dining with a photo of his dead wife. Obviously, both of these fellows need to get out more, which is exactly what Charlie has in mind. When he stumbles upon two tickets for a pleasure cruise, it seems their luck is beginning to change. Unfortunately, once Charlie and Herb board the ocean liner and set sail, Charlie informs Herb that they've actually enlisted as dance hosts, which is why they're sailing for free (otherwise, the trip will cost them each over $2,000). Herb is furious but decides to stay on in hope of frolicking with beautiful, rich single women. The cruise director, Gil (Brent Spiner, Star Trek: Nemesis), is uptight and informs the men that they are not to fraternize with any of the guests. This rule lasts all of around 10 minutes when Herb meets a lonely widow, Vivian (Gloria De Haven, whose first film was an uncredited role in Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times), and Charlie sets his sights on the beautiful Liz (the stunning Dyan Cannon, Honeysuckle Rose). As the two men flirt with the ladies -- and disaster if they are caught -- they learn that balancing being a dance host and secret romancers is a delicate affair.
It speaks volumes about Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau's talent that the two classic geezers were able to make me laugh even when the film they were in was sinking like the Titanic. Out To Sea is easily one of the pair's lesser films, yet I couldn't help crack a smile every time Matthau's hound dog face or Lemmon's stammering mug wandered on screen. Though both men have since gone on to the great comedic beyond, they've left behind a great many great movies, and a few duds -- but even the duds have their moments.
Out To Sea is really just another variation on the Matthau/Lemmon formula. Call it Grumpy Old Sailors. This time the boys set sail for disaster as dance hosts on a cruise ship, and while they're funny guys, the screenplay leaves little in the way of true unadulterated humor. Elaine Stritch comes away with the best one-liners (snapping "I need a crap and a nap and I don't need an audience") and Brent Spiner, everyone's favorite android, mugs for all he's worth as the ship's cruise director. The real surprise is seeing Donald O'Conner show up in what would be his final film role -- he's second banana to dance host Hal Linden (TV's Barney Miller). Yet fans will delight in seeing the legendary dancer trop his way around the stage one last time. As for Matthau and Lemmon, each man does what he's most known for. Lemmon acts prissy and proper while Matthau schmoozes with the ladies, all the while acting like a general lout. The roles aren't a stretch for either actor, but they do what's required of them with finesse, good humor, and professionalism.
Though Out To Sea didn't end up being the men's final film together (they'd reunite one final time for Neil Simon's underrated failure The Odd Couple II), fans will be happy to catch these guys working together in what ended up being the sunset of their careers. Out To Sea isn't a great comedy -- or even a very good one -- but it's worth a look to watch two of the silver screen's greatest comedians doing what they did best: making us laugh.
Out to Sea is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. You won't need to throw this transfer a life raft -- Fox has done a fine job of making sure the print is in excellent condition. Though it's not on par with something like Lord of the Rings, Out to Sea looks very good. The colors and black levels all look great without any bleeding in the images. Dirt, grain, and other imperfections are thankfully lacking. Overall, this is a very attractive transfer. A lackluster 1.33:1 full frame transfer is also included on side A, but not recommended.
The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround in English. Hey, this track isn't half bad! I was expecting a very weak effort but was pleasantly surprised with how nice this 5.1 ends up being. Though there aren't tons of directional effects in the mix, David Newman's bouncy music score is nicely rendered. Also included on this disc is a Dolby 2.0 Surround track in Spanish, a Dolby Mono track in French, and English and Spanish subtitles.
Fans of Lemmon and Matthau will be sorely disappointed to find only a theatrical trailer for the film featured on this disc.
Review content copyright © 2004 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (Spanish)
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (French)
Running Time: 106 Minutes
Release Year: 1997
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Theatrical Trailer