The Odd Couple ★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

I first encountered The Odd Couple as the TV show in reruns on Nick at Nite in the 90s. It had its moments, but I felt it was pretty much a one-trick pony and tired of it early. My interest in the film was bolstered tremendously after I saw Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau in Grumpy Old Men, though it was quite some time before I ever finally got around to seeing this film version of Neil Simon's play.

Since the last time I watched The Odd Couple, I've spent a weekend in a mental health facility for suicidal depression and my marriage has collapsed. I've sort of been holding off on revisiting this film knowing that I would have a strong but unpredictable emotional reaction to Felix Ungar's character arc.

Truth be told, I've been melancholy lately though I don't feel I'm in any danger of slipping back into actual depression. I found myself empathizing with Lemmon's Felix more achingly than in previous viewings, but I also found myself laughing at the often dark humor more than I remember doing during previous viewings. I think there's something about experience that makes imitation funnier, but what do I know?

It would have been very easy for The Odd Couple to rely entirely on mocking gender role identity norms of its day - specifically, male gender role norms. There's some of that here, of course, but Oscar (Matthau) never actually belittles Felix for not being masculine enough. He finds Felix's behaviors irritating, but it's the behaviors themselves and not that Felix isn't sufficiently macho that's the source of their conflict. (And, in fairness, who wouldn't find Felix frustrating?)

I remember when I was discharged from the mental health facility and I informed my friends about where I'd been and what was going on. They were quick to rally around me, and I appreciated that immensely. There was, of course, a sort of sense that they were treating me with kid gloves the way that Oscar treats Felix in the beginning of the film. I needed it at the time, though, and I like to think that unlike Felix, I wasn't exasperating for my friends. If I was, at least they were all patient and forgiving enough not to chase me out of their homes!

In previous viewings, I recall feeling that the film more or less just kind of runs down the clock and ends because it's out of ideas. This time, though, perhaps because of my personal experiences, I found the finale more satisfying. I liked that Felix's arc isn't resolved but that he feels confident facing whatever comes next. That's how I've felt since late 2011.

The Odd Couple was nominated for two Academy Awards: FILM EDITING (Frank Bacht) and WRITING (Screenplay--based on material from another medium) (Neil Simon). Editing is a hard thing for the uninformed like me to really discuss unless it's conspicuous and I can't say I feel that the editing here is. The story and dialog are terrific. The Odd Couple is the only nominee from its year in that field that I've seen, so I can't say anything about how it compares with its competition.

I was surprised that Neal Hefti's addictive score wasn't nominated! I can accept that it was a crowded field that year and I can accept it not winning, but still... Here were the five scores that made it, incidentally:

The Fox -- Lalo Schifrin
The Lion in Winter -- John Barry <-- WINNER
Planet of the Apes -- Jerry Goldsmith
The Shoes of the Fisherman -- Alex North
The Thomas Crown Affair -- Michel Legrand

The Odd Couple Re-Ranked on My Flickchart (#405/1469)

The Odd Couple > This Film Is Not Yet Rated --> #405
I got a kick out of This Film Is Not Yet Rated exposing the MPAA, but I have a deeper personal identification with The Odd Couple. It gets the nod.

The Odd Couple > The Fox and the Hound --> #368
I haven't seen The Fox and the Hound in probably 20 years or more, but the sadness of it has stayed with me. Still, until I re-watch it I don't feel confident picking it over the dark but delightful Odd Couple.

The Odd Couple < Secondhand Lions --> #368
Funnily enough, I discussed Secondhand Lions before re-watching The Odd Couple just now. I dig both films. I have a stronger emotional connection to The Odd Couple, but I was more surprised by Secondhand Lions.

The Odd Couple > The Spy Who Came In from the Cold --> #275
The Spy Who Came In from the Cold is a brilliant adaptation of John le Carre's masterpiece, but it's so concerned with being the anti-Bond that it's dry and stuffy. I'd pick the novel over either of these films, but I'm picking The Odd Couple here.

The Odd Couple > Me, Myself & Irene --> #229
Me, Myself & Irene was the first Jim Carrey comedy I actually enjoyed...but not enough to pick it over The Odd Couple.

The Odd Couple < Twister --> #229
I could rationalize why I'm picking Twister here, but I won't. I love the movie without apology and that's that.

The Odd Couple < Nosferatu --> #229
I have more of an emotional connection with The Odd Couple, having experienced much of what Felix copes with throughout the film, but Nosferatu is just haunting.

The Odd Couple > Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze --> #223
The Odd Couple is objectively the much stronger film and it resonates with me in a very personal way...but the other movie here is TMNT2. Gah! I'm picking The Odd Couple...this time.

The Odd Couple > Walk the Line --> #220
If I based this choice entirely on the performances, I'd pick Walk the Line, hands down. Unfortunately, I'm too big a fan of Johnny Cash (and Rosanne Cash, for that matter) to swallow all of its dubious creative license indulgences. The Odd Couple wins.

The Odd Couple < Independence Day --> #220
I was at just the right age when Independence Day opened in 1996 to be entertained by its excess, and that satisfaction has stayed with me the last 17 years. It gets the nod.

The Odd Couple was re-ranked to #220/1469 on my Flickchart