Buddy Buddy

Synopsis: This black comedy stars the comic duo of Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau as a pair of antagonists. Trabucco (Matthau) is a hitman who, having already dispatched two of the witnesses to an act of criminal fraud is about to ice the third, mobster Rudy Gambola (Fil Formicola) before he can testify. As he makes his final preparations, he’s interrupted by the sounds of Victor Clooney (Lemmon) trying to hang himself in the next hotel room, depressed over his wife Celia’s (Paula Prentiss), romance with her sex therapist, Dr. Zuckerbroot (Klaus Kinski). Annoyed, the hitman binds and gags Clooney, who nevertheless escapes, and decides to switch to a leap from the hotel ledge. The desperate Trabucco finally agrees to take Clooney to see his wife at the clinic, simply and literally to get rid of him, a task which proves much more difficult than the hitman could ever have imagined.

Buddy Buddy 6.5

So far, this is the lesser of the Lemmon-Matthau pairings (I have yet to see ‘The Front Page’). It’s a better film than ‘Grumpier Old Men’, but their interplay is weaker here. It’s unfortunate, because it ended up being Billy Wilder’s swan song – one he regretted to his dying day.

There are worse films out there, for sure, but the jokes fall flat and the leads’ performances are less than inspired – Lemmon pretty much reprises his ‘Odd Couple’ persona, Matthau limps through his straight-man’s role and the secondary cast is forgettable or clueless.

At best, this film is okay for a lazy Sunday afternoon when there’s nothing else on TV; it’s not a waste of time, clearly, but it’s not a memorable or engrossing experience either. It’s one of the Wonder Breads of comedy, basically.

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