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SEEMS LIKE OLD TIMES

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars:  Chevy Chase, Goldie Hawn, Charles Grodin, Robert Guillaume
Director:  Jay Sandrich
Audio:  Dolby Digital Mono
Video:  Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1, Full Frame 1.33:1
Studio:  Columbia Tri Star
Features:  Trailers
Length:  102 Minutes
Release Date:  March 19, 2002

“You know, Glen, it’s times like these that make me wonder why we ever got divorced.”

“BECAUSE, Nick.  BECAUSE of times like these.”

Film ***1/2

When I first saw Seems Like Old Times, I thought it was one of the funniest pictures I’d ever seen.  Some twenty years later, I still think so.  I have the laughter pains in my sides as I write to prove it.

Neil Simon was in his movie heyday in the late 70s and early 80s.  He scripted many memorable movies, either directly for the screen or based on one of his hit plays.  Seems Like Old Times was a direct screenplay, and very possibly the funniest thing the man ever wrote. 

Glenda Parks (the illustrious Hawn in top form) has a problem.  Her current husband is the District Attorney and soon-to-be Attorney General Ira (Grodin).  Her first husband, Nick (Chase) is wanted for bank robbery.  Both want her help!

Okay, a little explanation is in order.  Nick is actually innocent of the crime, set up by two thugs who forced him at gunpoint to hand the bank teller their stick-up note.  But the bank’s security camera gets a very good (and funny) look at him exiting the crime.  Glenda believes his story, but can’t believe Nick has come to her for aid, especially with her husband being the District Attorney trying to convict him!

That’s only the beginning of troubles.  Before long, complications arise.  Nick keeps ending up in the wrong place at the wrong time.  How he winds up under the bed while Glenda and Ira are making love, or serving chicken pepperoni to the Governor of California in the Parks’ home, I’ll leave for you to discover.

This is a situation rich in comic probabilities, and I believe writer Simon, director Jay Sandrich, and the actors all pull every possible laugh out of the material.  Nick’s clumsiness may be all Chevy Chase, but the scenarios are all Neil Simon.

Adding to the humor are some great running gags…the troupe of dogs that always rummage through the house (and other places) at inopportune times, or the fact that Glenda, an attorney herself, keeps helping her petty criminal clients by giving them jobs as domestics around the house!

Bottom line…this movie is a proven laugh riot from start to finish.  If you’re looking for a chuckling good time, Seems Like Old Times is absolutely one of the very best treats you can give yourself.

Video ***1/2

I owned a laser disc copy of this movie for many years, and I’m happy to report, Columbia Tri Star’s new anamorphically enhanced presentation is a beautiful step up.  I was delighted at how much purer and stronger the colors look on this DVD, and the level of detail is better than ever…I noticed little touches that I’d never seen before, which made the viewing experience seem fresh and new!  There is no grain, no distortion, no fading, and no compression evident…even the print itself is in remarkably good shape.  Considering that 80s movies are usually the most problematic on DVD, this is an example of how good they can be, when done correctly.

Audio **1/2

The mono track is serviceable if unspectacular…it serves the dialogue well, which is the real attraction.  I give it a half star above average for Marvin Hamlisch’s very 70s-ish score, which sounds very nice on DVD.

Features *

The disc includes two trailers; one for this film and one for Cops and Robbersons.

Summary:

I will always treasure this movie, and consider it one of the top ten funniest films ever made.  A great script by Neil Simon is delivered with sure fire timing by a solid director and a perfect cast.  This is one you’ll enjoy again and again.