- Movie Rating -

Buddy Buddy (1981)

| December 11, 1981

What has happened here?  What forces have gone into such a colossal and dismal exercise in human misery?  What brought four of the most creative minds in the history of the cinema to such a dead and unwatchable mess.  Here they are, Walter Matthau, Jack Lemmon, director Billy Wilder and his frequent writing partner I.A.L. Diamond.  Together and separately, they’ve created some of the greatest movies ever – Sunset Boulevard, Double Indemnity, Some Like It Hot, The Fortune Cookie, The Apartment – but here they have concocted one of the worst.

Buddy Buddy is a painful slog, a miserable picture that not only doesn’t illicit a single laugh but generates an ugly and uncomfortable feeling in the stomach of the viewer.  The characters are repulsive, the plot is non-existant, and every scene feels like a first take.

Matthau plays grouchy hitman named Trabucco.  As the movie opens, he is walking through a very fake-looking suburban neighborhood disguised as a mailman and setting up traps for witnesses that he’s been hired to kill.   He puts a bomb in a mailbox and flips up the flag.  Later he is disguised as a milk man (in spite of the fact that there are no milk men anymore) and delivers poisoned milk to his next intended victim.  The pacing of this scene, the set decoration, Matthau’s demeanor all seem out of place.  What universe is this?

It hardly matters because the movie never bows to answering that question.  Trabucco moves into a hotel across from the courthouse so that he can set up a sniper’s nest in order to take out his next victim.  Breaking up the flow of his schemes comes Victor Clooney (Jack Lemmon), a suicidal mope who is hell-bent on taking his own life because his wife Celia (Paula Prentiss) has just run away with her sex therapist Dr. Zuckerbrot (Klaus Kinskey).  The gimmick here is that Victor is making a lot of noise in a place where Trabucco would prefer to keep a low profile, therefore he must pretend to like him to keep him quiet.  When that doesn’t work, he uses chloroform in order to keep him under control.  Are you getting any of this?  Are you laughing?  I didn’t think so.

Perhaps, maybe, at some point this could all work.  But watching the film is a miserable experience.  The comedy is so slow, so underplayed, so dismal that you sit there wishing someone would light a fire under it.  The actors show up but nobody seems willing to be in on a scene.  Both Matthau and Lemmon are running through dialogue here and the movie ends with a sad monologue that frankly I was appalled by.  That’s pretty much my feeling for the whole movie.  They’ve made better movies before.  Look for those right now.  Leave this one to fester in the dustbins of history.  Ugh!

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1981) View IMDB Filed in: Uncategorized