Paramount // 1971 // 114 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // December 16th, 2003
"Roy, just talk nicely and she'll come out."
"We've had 'nice talking,' now we're gonna have 'door breaking.'"
-- Walter Matthau and Lee Grant, Plaza Suite
Welcome to the Plaza Suite, a hotel where hearts are broken, mended, and laughed at. In Neil Simon's adaptation of his hit theatrical play, Plaza Suite features funnyman Walter Matthau in three very different roles. In the first story Matthau plays Sam Nash, a businessman staying with his wife, Karen (Maureen Stapleton, Airport), on the eve of their anniversary. Little does Karen know that Sam's infidelities are about to bubble to the surface of their marriage with hilarious and heartbreaking consequences. In the second story Matthau is Jesse Kiplinger, a famous Hollywood producer in town with only one thing on his mind: hanky panky! His target: an old flame (Barbara Harris, Peggy Sue Got Married), now married with children. In the last story, Matthau is Roy Hubley, the proud father of Mimsey (Jenny Sullivan, V: The Final Battle), who is supposedly getting married -- if he can only get her out of the bathroom! With his frustrated wife (Lee Grant, Defending Your Life) by his side and a slew of wedding guests waiting near the altar, Roy is about to discover that "happily ever after" doesn't start 'till the bride leaves the commode.
Need proof that Walter Matthau was one of the funniest guys on the planet? Pick up Neil Simon's Plaza Suite, a movie featuring three vignettes with Matthau at the center of each of them. Whether he's playing a philandering husband, a sleazy movie producer, or a frustrated parent, Matthau is the embodiment of comedy. His hound dog mug and rubberized limbs should give you two solid hours worth of hearty belly laughs. At the center of Simon's funny, engrossing movie is the idea that love comes in many forms and is always more complicated than it seems. The three stories, woven together by the setting of the Plaza Suite, are of varying quality. The best is the last one, featuring Matthau at his frustrated, blustering best. As he attempts to woo his daughter out of the washroom, anything can go wrong...and pretty much does. From nearly breaking his shoulder while attempting to break down the door to being caught in the rain while navigating the terrace to the washroom, this is truly Simon at his funniest and wittiest. In the first story, Simon's tone is slightly more serious. Stapleton is great as Matthau's wife, a woman who seems to be suffering from having a husband who just doesn't care enough to make her feel loved. Matthau also pulls in a good performance as a man trying to cover up his adulterous ways, and poorly, I might add. Though the middle story doesn't sink the ship, it's the weakest link in the chain. Barbara Harris spends most of the time deflecting Matthau's advances while he piles on the compliments and alcohol (booze: the answer to and cause of all of life's troubles). Though there are funny bits in this vignette, overall it's slight and not half as good as the first and last. Taken as a whole, however, Plaza Suite still offers some great entertainment and laughs, including a dozen or so wonderful zingers shot off by the late, great Walter Matthau. Checkout may be at 11:00, but the fun doesn't have to stop with this DVD edition of Plaza Suite!
Plaza Suite is presented is 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Paramount has produced a fine looking print of this film, even if it sports a few inconsistencies. There are moments where grain and dirt show up, as well as small amount of edge enhancement. However, the bulk of the transfer is filled with solid colors and dark black levels. Those who've had to suffer through shoddy VHS versions will be more than happy with this newly minted DVD transfer. The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono in English and French. Much like the video transfer, this soundtrack is good, but not fantastic. It's mono, which means there isn't much in the way of fidelity or dynamic range -- the dialogue, music, and effects are clear, which is the most important aspect of the mix. Also included on this disc are English subtitles.
There are many rooms in the Plaza Suite, but little in the way of extra features. Like most Paramount catalog titles, Plaza Suite doesn't include a single supplemental feature.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 114 Minutes
Release Year: 1971
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13