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The Out-Of-Towners


The Out-Of-Towners

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It's difficult to determine exactly when Steve Martin stopped caring, but it probably happened sometime during the early '90s. The commercial failure of L.A. Story and the success of the execrable Father Of The Bride seemed to indicate a huge audience for films in which he engaged in tame, middlebrow pratfalls, and a significantly smaller one for films in which he attempted to do anything the least bit challenging. Throughout subsequent films—Father Of The Bride Part II, HouseSitter, Mixed Nuts—Martin wore a beleaguered look of exasperation, as if to say, "Christ, the things a guy has to do to earn $10 million nowadays!" Martin is in familiar uninvolved form throughout The Out-Of-Towners, playing an upper-middle-class executive who travels to New York alongside ditsy spouse Goldie Hawn to interview for a prestigious job with an advertising agency. The Out-Of-Towners establishes its comedic premise early on, as Hawn helpfully explains to Martin that he is an uptight bore while she is a flighty free spirit and, appropriately enough, the next 90 minutes consist mainly of inept slapstick skits revolving around the mismatched pair and the predictable road they take toward reconciliation. Martin flails, Hawn brays, and John Cleese and Mark McKinney show up to sleepwalk through supporting roles as a snobby concierge and a randy Hollywood agent, respectively. As in the Father Of The Bride movies, the filmmakers here seem to be operating under the assumption that there's something funny or likable about Martin's wealthy, uptight, slightly zany WASP character and his mild-mannered antics. There's not, and director Sam Weisman's pushy, subtlety-free direction certainly doesn't help. Martin is still capable of making a decent film, but The Out-Of-Towners isn't it.