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R: ARCHIVE, S: REVIEWS, D: 07/03/1997,

Out to Sea

The desperately overboard coming-attractions clip suggests something like Speed 0: Bladder Control -- so it's a relief that this film's own seamanly "action" finale involves nothing more adventurous than shooting off a flare. And though fans of Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau will again regret the absence of retired captain Billy Wilder, the odd couple's third geriatric farce is a far nimbler exercise than Grumpy Old Men. Lemmon plays the straight man, a sentimental loner who apologizes to his late wife's photograph for celebrating their anniversary one day late. Matthau plays the incorrigible dreamer, a guy who bets 10 bucks across the board on 70-1 longshots and who signs up the pair as cruise-ship dance instructors in an adolescent bid to "sip champagne with lonely rich broads."

As neither old man is all that grumpy, Out to Sea's charm rides on how earnestly the geezers long for their one last turn on the dance floor (and on the self-reflexive sense that the actors themselves may be sailing into the sunset). Matthau, despite being saddled with some Old World one-liners ("D'ya see the chassis on that broad?"), lends a poignant quality to his character's 11th-hour pursuit of a sophisticated lady (Dyan Cannon, playing the decades-younger love interest). And the Lemmon character's deceptive courtship of a fellow widower (Gloria DeHaven) allows for a gently observed seniors' quandary: whether it's worth taking another partner when the first one was perfect. At the Copley Place and the Fresh Pond and in the suburbs.

-- Rob Nelson