“Same shit, different day” is probably the best way to describe this film. Everything that worked in the first movie is here again. Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau still have terrific chemistry, and Burgess Meredith steals all of his scenes, the only difference is that this time it is Matthau getting some loving rather than Lemmon, who has now married Ann-Margaret.
Grumpier Old Men picks up a year after the events of the first film. John (Lemmon) has married Ariel (Margaret), and he is still bickering with next door neighbour/frenemy Max Goldman (Matthau) at every opportunity. Their bickering takes on a new level when their children (Daryl Hannah and Kevin Pollack) announce they are getting married. For the first time, John and Max will literally be family. Among all the commotion of planning a wedding, John and Max are excited to hear their local bait shop has been bought. They are looking forward to shopping there again, but are horrified to discover that the new owner (Sophia Loren) plans to turn it into an Italian restaurant. Sparks fly between them originally, but eventually Max and her begin to bond and gross old people stuff happens.
My biggest problem with this film is that it just feels unnecessary. It is a complete rehash of the first one which was charming, but most of all, it was original. This film loses that freshness, despite the fact that everything that was good about the first film is again on show here. The cast is good again and the film is still funny, but there is definitely something missing. I enjoyed this film, but wouldn’t be rushing out to see it again. The original is a much more entertaining ride.
Grumpier Old Men is fun, but it just feels so unnecessary. Nearly everything that was great about the original is back– Lemmon & Matthau, practical jokes and pranks, Burgess Meredith being a dirty old man– but the result is less fun. I don’t always dislike derivative sequels, but this one has one particular change that makes it a tad more mean spirited than the first. Instead of picking on each other, Lemmon and Matthau’s characters are picking on Sophia Loren.
Now, anyone who has seen this movie can attest to the fact that Sophia Loren’s character can absolutely hold her own against these two dudes. They push her, she pushes right back. But really, what crime has she committed to deserve their ire? She’s just turning their deceased friend’s old bait shop into an Italian restaurant. Honestly, you’d think anyone would be super excited to eat authentic Italian food served up by an attractive lady. It makes little sense that these two spend a good portion of the movie trying to sabotage Loren’s budding business, and it makes them look like jerks. The tone of the movie is subtly changed just enough that I found the first half a tad hard to watch.
The second half of the movie falls into more familiar territory. Lemmon got the girl the first time around, so this time Matthau gets to woo the new hot chick in town. They temporarily reignite their feud, eventually finding common ground and becoming friends again. There is also more subplot involving the two men’s children (played once again by Darryl Hannah and Kevin Pollack), but it feels underdeveloped and rushed. It’s all there, but feels lackluster compared to the first film. I’m hard pressed to come up with a favorite moment– the first movie just stands out in my mind so much more.