The Odd Couple (1968)

(On Cable TV, February 2018) The premise of The Odd Couple is universal to the point of nearly being a cliché fifty years later: A neat freak and a slob having to cope with each other in a single apartment? Sure-fire laughs. After seeing the same variation a few dozen times, however, it’s not surprising that the original The Odd Couple would feel so familiar. The film seemingly takes forever to establish what seems already obvious, and some plot points (especially during the third act) now feel forced more than organic. Fortunately, other elements rescue the film from those weaker moments: Both Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon are quite good in the lead roles, and the beauty of The Odd Couple’s classic structure means that the film is almost bound to be satisfying from the beginning to the end. But the film’s biggest asset remains Neil Simon’s terrific dialogue, as witty now at it was then and adding much to the now-standard formula. The result may not feel particularly fresh, but it continues to get laughs.

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