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The Sunshine Boys

77 customer reviews

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(Mar 30, 2004)
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Editorial Reviews

Two feuding former vaudville performers are convinced to reuinite for a TV special

Special Features

  • Vintage featurette "The Lion Roars Again"
  • Jack Benny and Walter Mathau makeup test
  • Phil Silvers screen test

Product Details

  • Actors: Walter Matthau, George Burns, Richard Benjamin, Lee Meredith, Carol Arthur
  • Directors: Herbert Ross
  • Writers: Neil Simon
  • Producers: Ray Stark, Roger M. Rothstein
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Dubbed: French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: March 30, 2004
  • Run Time: 111 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00013WWIY
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #84,258 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Sunshine Boys" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Bomojaz on September 14, 2005
Format: DVD
Wonderful and hilarious Neil Simon comedy about two old vaudevillians who worked together for 43 years, but hate each other. A chance to work a TV variety show tracing the history of comedy brings them together again for the first time in 11 years. Walter Matthau and George Burns play the two old troopers, and it's marvelous to see them work. Matthau is a grouchy curmudgeon - loud and proud and irascible; Burns is a bit more mellow but just as proud. A very funny movie, and poignant, too.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Archmaker VINE VOICE on May 21, 2001
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
This brilliant Neil Simon comedy about two old vaudevillians who for 43 years were a tremendous comedy team onstage, but who irritated and eventually hated each other offstage is a gem of comedic acting and timing.

Based in fact on a pair of real vaudevillians who barely spoke to each other offstage, Simon has found another bickering Odd Couple with which to mine great humor. Willy Clark (Matthau) is an irascible old coot that can't give up showbiz and has his poor harassed nephew (Richard Benjamin) flogging up commercials etc. which he invariably messes up. He has not spoken to the other half of the team Al Lewis (Burns) in years, still angry at percieved onstage slights and the fact that Lewis retired. The nephew gets the idea to reunite them to do one of their classic routines on TV and that's when the insults begin to fly.

I cannot disagree more with the reviewer that disparaged Matthau's performance. He is absolutely wonderful. The old age makeup is subtle and it is his brilliant acting that convinces us he is the same age and era as his wonderful counterpart George Burns, even though Matthau was probably 20-30 years younger. The various voice modulations Matthau uses for different effects is especially noteworthy.

George Burns was called out of near-retirement to replace Jack Benny (when Benny died) in this role, and it created a new career for this marvelous old trooper. He and Matthau are superb together, and they have these old poops down to a T.
There is much fun made of these old boy's lapses due to their age. Probably politically incorrect, it is gentle and affectionate humor to my mind. Simon loves these old guys, and his ear for dialogue and eye for observation of behavior is as good here as anything he's done.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By John Wilde on May 28, 2005
Format: DVD
There are movies for one time and there are movies for all times..."The sunshine boys" undoubtedly refers to this last category. Beyond the simple high-class comedy, beyond the actors incredible performance, this movie refers to both of the most important themes in a man's life : friendship and nostalgy. The most complex relationship developped here between Al and Willy refers to complexity of friendship itself...which is made of ups and downs, as if Life was indeed, theater-like...But Macbeth has already unveiled this true human situation : "Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player That struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more"...really, Al and Willy have played and lived their life on one single dimension : comedy...and nobody can tell the difference between acting and living...Beyond friendship's complexity, there's nostalgy...These two men are unchained by past only...they are prisoners of "old good time" and they cannot escape it...They have been famous, and then, they're unknown again...lost in city's human sea forever...While Willy still try to come back again, at the foreground of human stage, Al's made a different choice...He retired...All this 11 years quarrel comes from the fact that Willy Clark never intended to retire, and, as Moliere, wanted to play until death -but does'nt he play, anyway ? Even without audience ?...I agree about saying that this is the greatest comedy since Shakespeare absolute masterpiece about what is life, what is time and what is absolute friendship...These two men has been together for half a century, living, playing together, same thing...beyond quarrel, there's friendship which nothing can break for good...And life is rounded with...a joke

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Michael on September 9, 2004
Format: VHS Tape
What a delightful comedy! Willie Clark and Al Lewis are two elderly former vaudevillians who try to reunite for a television special. But while they were famous together in their day as the Sunshine Boys, the two men never got along - their differences having been exacerbated by Al's retiring and leaving Willie out on a limb. The resulting comic conflict and hilarious dialogue form much of the comedy. There are a few secrets to this work. Ironically, Willie's and Al's actual interaction in real life is infinitely funnier than their stale comedy act. Furthermore, the play itself is structured like a giant vaudeville routine, with sight gags, non-stop side-splitting one-liners, and a straight man (Willie's nephew Ben). Al's admission at the end that he can't distinguish them from their act is very telling! Finally, like all great comedies, SUNSHINE BOYS has a strain of seriousness, in the form of Willie's surprising and sudden illness in the middle of the play. This poignant note stays until the touching conclusion.

As Willie, Walter Matthau has the kvetchy old man routine down to a fine art. Although occasionally Matthau's body movements betray that he is not really as old as he is made up to be (he was 56 and Willie is supposed to be in his 70's), in terms of voice and characterization he is perfect. While Jack Benny and George Burns would have been the ideal coupling (as they were both former vaudeville comedians, just like Willie and Al), I find it hard to imagine Benny in this role. Matthau has a grating obnoxiousness and a maniacal rage which I could not imagine in the genteel Benny. George Burns plays the quiet, reasoned side of the team.
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