Seems Like Old Times (1980) / Comedy-Romance
MPAA Rated: PG for innuendo, mild violence and language
Running time: 100 min
Cast: Chevy Chase, Goldie Hawn, Charles Grodin, T.K. Carter, Robert Guillaume, Harold Gould, George Grizzard, Yvonne Wilder, Judd Omen, Marc Alaimo
Director: Jay Sandrich
Screenplay: Neil Simon
Review published September 26, 2008
Chevy Chase (Caddyshack, Modern Problems) stars as Nick Gardenia, a divorced writer who is abducted from his secluded Big Sur, California bungalow at gunpoint and forced to rob a bank by a couple of two-bit hoods intent to make him the fall guy. Left for dead by the men after doing the deed and wanted by the authorities, Nick turns to the only person he knows he can trust, his ex-wife Glenda (Hawn, Protocol). However, harboring a fugitive isn't something Glenda chooses to share with her ambitious L.A. district attorney husband, Ira (Grodin, Heaven Can Wait), especially as he is seeking to make a name for himself to push forward his career in politics s a would-be Attorney General through a dinner with the governor.
Neil Simon scripts this witty and charming dessert film that reunites Chevy Chase and Goldie Hawn (after their hit Foul Play), meshing quite well with Chase's deadpan delivery and Hawn's sweetheart persona. It's a light confection, but well realized, as the laughs and pleasant tone is maintained throughout this sitcom premise (no surprise that director Sandrich ("Soap", "Mary Tyler Moore") is a TV comedy vet) to overcome contrivances for the sake of a quality romantic comedy of sorts. Most films of its ilk would establish the third wheel character of the current husband as a lout deserving of a break-up, and while Ira is certainly a cad, Simon wisely never paints the character in a negative light, creating some interesting conflicts in the dynamic of the newly reunited partners in crime. Glenda's needs are provided for, but she still misses the excitement of her turbulent relationship with Nick, and enjoys the spark he gives her humdrum life.
One aspect of Seems Like Old Times that hasn't aged as well is Chevy Chase's trademark schtick: pratfalls. I'm not sure if they felt that all Chevy Chase appearances needed to dig up his SNL days by having him fall on his butt for no apparent reason, or if Chase just felt Simon's wit might not be enough to generate laughs, but there are about a half dozen instances one can point to where Chase overplays his clumsiness to the detriment of the tone of the scene he is in. Compound that with a fairly ridiculous plot and a final shot that somehow leaves the impression that an adequate ending was never quite able to be conveyed, and Simon's film turns from a sure crowd-pleaser to one that can irk if you aren't in the mindset to accept it as just a piece of fluff entertainment and nothing more.
Despite the quibbles, Seems Like Old Times is a sure-fire hit for fans of the three lead characters, and should also please Neil Simon fans with equal measure. It's a satisfying little comedy that generates some solid laughs and interest, and serves as a reminder that Chase can actually be funny when the material is right.
©2008 Vince Leo