DVD Review
by Kevin Carr

    MOVIE: *** (out of 5 stars)
    DVD EXPERIENCE: **** (out of 5 stars)

    Jack Lemmon as FELIX UNGAR
    Walter Matthau as OSCAR MADISON

    Rated G
    Studio: Paramount

    Directed by: Gene Saks

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Fastidious Felix Ungar (Jack Lemmon) has just split up with his wife. Depressed and suicidal, he moves in with his friend, a slob named Oscar Madison (Walter Matthau). Oscar is divorced, and he tries to help Felix get back on his dating feet while they share their New York apartment. However, the two come to odds when their personal styles of neatness and slovenliness collide.

Like many classic films from the 60s, I hadn’t seen the entire film “The Odd Couple” until I watched this DVD. My personal experience with these characters came from watching sit com reruns with Tony Randall and Jack Klugmann. It was very nice to revisit these characters in their original form... at last as they first appeared on screen.

I do enjoy a good Neil Simon comedy, and you’ll find that in “The Odd Couple.” The film has a distinct 60s feel to it, but it’s not so steeped in the decade that it can’t be appreciated by a modern audience. Of course, the dating scene – especially the New York dating scene – is drastically different nowadays. It’s not likely that Felix or Oscar could survive a guest spot on “Sex and the City.” However, for the somewhat sanitized feel of New York of 1968, this movie is cute.

The key to the movie is its stars. Looking at “The Odd Couple” more than 40 years after it was made, it’s hard to imagine a world where the pairing of Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau was untested. Both do a fine job in this film, but it is Matthau’s reserved yet committed man’s man that gives the film its comedic edge. Of course, things wouldn’t be the same if you didn’t have Lemmon at his side providing him an excellent straight man.

I’m not exactly sure what it is about the films of the 1960s that escape me, but I just don’t adore them the way some people do. Perhaps it’s because I didn’t live in the decade or experience it first hand. I’m sure I’d connect better with a modern stage portrayal of “The Odd Couple,” considering that I have always enjoyed Neil Simon’s work.

Still, even with the 60s elements of this movie, it was still enjoyable.

So far, the films in the release slate of Paramount’s Centennial Collection have been extremely impressive. Like other releases, “The Odd Couple” comes with an entire second disc of features, as well as a commentary on the feature disc provided by the sons of the original Odd Couple – Charlie Matthau and Chris Lemmon.

The second disc includes the following featurettes: “In the Beginning...” which describes how the production came to the screen; “Matthau & Lemmon,” which explains how these two cinema legends got paired together; “Memories from the Set,” featuring some surviving cast members including the Pigeon sisters; along with “Inside The Odd Couple” and “The Odd Couple: A Classic,” both of which feature more stories about the film and how it became a classic in American cinema.

There’s also the original theatrical trailer and two photo galleries.

Neil Simon fans and anyone who likes a good pairing of Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau.

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