Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Imagine this happening to you at Thanksgiving

If you've got the Encore package and can get Encore Classics, you'll have a couple of chances to catch Seems Like Old Times, at 2:35 PM Thursday and 5:50 AM Friday.

Chevy Chase stars as Nicholas Gardenia, who at the start of the movie is at a mildly isolated beach house some place in Northern California. He's a writer, and looking for some solitude for his next project. A couple of guys come knocking at his door, and they make it known in no uncertain terms that they need Nicholas' help for their next project. Of course, they do it in those "no uncertain terms" because their project is bank robbery! They've got their eyes on one of the bank branches in another of those seaside towns, and they expect Nicholas to pass the hold-up note and drive the getaway car for them. It sounds like a daft idea, but it is their plan. The robbery goes about as well as can be expected, in that it goes according to plan, nobody gets hurt, and the bankers get away with the money. They don't even show up on any of the security cameras; the only one who does is poor Nicholas. And the only getaway he can make involves getting pushed out of his own car at high speed by the two bank robbers, which leaves Nicholas stranded in the middle of nowhere and injured.

Meanwhile, down in the Los Angeles area, getting news about this is District Attorney Ira Parks (Charles Grodin). He's in the running to be his party's nominee for Attorney General, and this bank robbery could cause some problems for him, even though he's several counties away. The thing is, Ira Parks' wife, a public defender named Glenda (Goldie Hawn), just happens to be the ex-wife of one Nicholas Gardenia -- yes, the very same man who was seen on that bank security camera footage. Even though Ira is clearly innocent of any wrongdoing, having a wife with a former husband who is a bank robber is obviously going to cause a problem in trying to run for higher office., as his right-hand man Fred (Robert Guillaume) points out.

Getting back to Nicholas, he's been trying to stay one step ahead of the authorities, while dealing with his other problems, namely that injury and the fact that he's hungry. So he's desperate for help. Desperate enough, in fact, that there's one place he decides he can turn to: his ex-wife Glenda! Oh, that's bad, but making matters worse is that Nicholas shows up at the Parks place just as they're holding a party for a bunch of political hot-shots. Having an alleged bank robber be seen there would be disastrous for everybody, especially the Parkses.

From here on out we get Nicholas trying to figure out a plan of escape, while Glenda is piling one lie on top of another trying to keep Nicholas from being caught, since that would cause bigger problems for Ira than just allowing Nicholas to go about his merry business. Now, as you may know from reading my earlier blog posts, I tend to have a problem with the comedy-of-lies in that I find the non-stop lying grating. Won't anybody see through these obvious lies? And to be perfectly honest, there are points during Seems Like Old Times where I get incredibly irritated with Goldie Hawn's character. And yet, ultimately, the movie does work for me. Glenda is part daffy in a screwball way, what with all those dogs and with trying to reform the people she's defending, and that helps the movie. Nicholas is basically honest, if just dumb enough to get himself into some bad situations. And Ira, well, you have to wonder what made him decide to marry Glenda. But thanks to the writing of Neil Simon, everything comes together well enough. Not as well as several of his other movies; if I were going to recommend one of his films I'd start off with The Sunshine Boys, followed by The Odd Couple. Still, if you like Neil Simon, I think you'll like this. Especially if you don't have the problems with the comedy-of-lies that I do.

Seems Like Old Times does seem to be available on DVD at Amazon.

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