The 1993 romantic comedy Grumpy Old Men is distributed by Warner Bros. Some of its stars include Jack Lemmon as John Gustafson, Walter Matthau as Max Goldman, Ann-Margret as Ariel Truax, Kevin Pollak as Jacob Goldman, and Daryl Hannah as Melanie Gustafson. The producers are John Davis and Richard C. Berman. The director is Donald Petrie.
The story takes place in the real-life small town of Wabasha, Minnesota. John Gustafson and Max Goldman have been feuding since 1938 when a woman came between them. When a beautiful widow named Ariel Truax moves in across the street from them, the fuel is added to the flame. After a mutual friend named Chuck breaks the ice with her, Max and John both prepare to pay her a visit themselves. But Max beats John to the punch and befriends the woman, despite the fact that she had seemed to take a liking to John. Max mistakes Ariel’s kind advances for romance and accuses John of trying to steal her away after he had slept with her. When Max unintentionally makes John feel sorry for him, he breaks it off with Ariel so Max can have her. This act makes him feel alone and miserable while Max continues to live in denial that she only sees their relationship as a friendship.
The pranks that John and Max pull on each other really enhance the humor in the movie. One such stunt happens when Max grabs a television remote and keeps changing the channel on his neighbor’s TV as he is trying to find out the winning lottery numbers. After Max’s son Jacob makes him open the window and apologize, John sprays water from a garden hose all over his neighbor, this all happening in the middle of winter in Minnesota.
The next day Max finds a nasty smell in his car. John had thrown a dead fish in there after he had been gloating about having a good day fishing. Max cannot find out what the smell is until he digs through the trash in his car and finds the rotting fish. John, as he is driving away, witnesses the discovery, a big devilish grin on his face. Max calls him a schmuck and heaves the fish at the back of his rival’s car as he drives away. I believe that this is one of the funniest pranks in the entire film.
Also, the side stories with John add drama to the storyline. Throughout most of the film, he is constantly bothered by an IRS agent named Elliot Snyder. John had apparently received union health benefits for years while claiming himself as married. However he had forgotten to notify the IRS that his ex-wife had another job for part of the time. Taxes were never paid on her income and, with the addition of penalties, he will be forced to sell his house to pay off the debt he owes.
To add more stress to his life, John’s daughter Melanie is in the middle of a nasty separation from her immature husband Mike. Mike often disappears for days on end, leaving her alone to care for their daughter Ally. Later, he returns and, much to his father-in-law’s chagrin, is taken back by Melanie. This, on top of the seemingly inevitable repossession of his house and the breakup with Ariel, is a huge burden on the old man.
To wrap, Grumpy Old Men is a warm-hearted romantic comedy that will have you laughing until it hurts!