I’ve never been too motivated to see out the later Jack Lemmon-Walter Matthau vehicles, despite being a fan of both of them in their earlier years – unconscious ageism? Probably. Anyway, I should’ve expected these two to play well off each other, given their respective talent and proven chemistry back in the ’60s, and they do. In a way, watching this felt comfortable, because even as John (Lemmon) and Max (Matthau) feud and play tricks on each other, it’s clear the two actors are having a bunch of fun just hanging out together on screen again.
It’s winter in Minnesota and they’re having a heat wave, or so the oft-repeated song keeps telling us, but John and Max spend their days bundled up ice fishing and chatting with bait store owner Chuck (an always-wonderful Ossie Davis) and their nights ogling new next-door neighbor Ariel (Ann-Margret). And if you thought these two grumpy old men were old and grumpy, wait until you meet John’s dad (Burgess Meredith), a 94-year-old firecracker whose frankness embarrasses John as if he were still a teenager.