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Wayback Wednesday: Seems Like Old Times (1980)

You leave Goldie Hawn alone, Chevy Chase!

When it comes to watching movies, there a few personal goals that I’ve set for myself. Of course I have my ever-growing list of movies to see, but I also would love to challenge myself to see every movie starring Vincent Price for example, or every movie directed by Nancy Meyers. That one I’m actually close to completing. I would also love to see every movie written by Neil Simon who without a doubt is one of my all-time favourite writers. Having already seen a handful of his movies, I continued my quest with Seems Like Old Times (1980), a charming little movie that is pure comedy from beginning to end. Once again, Simon scores with me! Full of witty jokes, charismatic leads and ridiculous physical comedy, Seems Like Old Times is everything a fan of Simon’s whipsmart writing could hope for. Four Simon movies down and 21 to go!

Credit: / Columbia Pictures

Seems Like Old Times tells the story of Nick Gardenia, a writer who is unwillingly forced to rob a bank and must go on the run with the police hot on his tail. Desperate for help, he seeks out his ex-wife, Glenda, a compassionate lawyer. Glenda promises to help him, but must keep Nick a secret from Ira, her new husband who is up for the job of Attorney General. Struggling to keep Nick’s presence a secret turns Glenda’s life upside down as she bends over backwards to hide him from Ira.

As previously stated, I’m an enormous fan of Simon’s writing style. I think he can take just about any situation or relationship and turn it into a hilarious, farcical experience. So, Simon crafting a comedy about an ex-husband disrupting the peace of his ex-wife’s new marriage set against the backdrop of his wrongful involvement in bank robbery, seems like an obvious recipe for success to me. As expected, Simon crafts a top-notch story that delivers from the get. Seriously, I was giggling within the first three minutes! Look, anytime you start a movie off with some real cheesy, 1980s, Miami, porn / cop music, I’m sold. For me, that was a clear indicator that director Jay Sandrich understood the tone of Simon’s script and ensured that the rest of the movie matched. Seems Like Old Times is cute, fun and exactly the type of lighthearted comedy that I think anyone can get behind. Like the rest of Simon’s writing, it’s sharp, quick and smart. Ugh, I just love Simon so much! Having watched Barefoot in the Park (1967) a million times – check out my review, here – then seeing California Suite (1978) and now Seems Like Old Times, it’s amazing to see how well his humour and writing adapts and evolves from decade to decade. He’s a versatile writer who’s work is timeless. Simon is obviously a fantastic writer that I would love to emulate, but what he does so well that I so greatly admire is his ability to write relationships between two people with a rich history. Seems Like Old Times is no exception and plays to Simon’s strong suit gloriously.

First of all, let me just say how thrilled I was to see that Goldie Hawn gets top billing. Partly because I love her and she’s hands down the true powerhouse of this movie, but also because  Chevy Chase kind of leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Probably because both on and off screen he was my least favourite part about Community (2009 – 2015), AKA the work of his I’m most familiar with. As much as I dislike him though I can’t deny that young Chase possesses a certain charisma and comedic timing that make his performance as Nick fairly enjoyable. He’s still not my favourite, but it just goes to show how likeable an actor can become when they’re gifted with writing as sensational as Simon’s. Every actor should have the chance to perform Simon’s work. Imagine the transformative performances we would get! As adequate as Chase is though, it’s Hawn and Charles Grodin who steal the show. 

Everything about Hawn and Grodin’s performances as Glenda and Ira is beautifully endearing. From their chemistry, to their playful romance, to their gorgeous house overflowing with adorable dogs and cats and sassy employees. I fell in love with this absolute dream of a life that Glenda was living! So much so that anytime Nick appeared on screen, I wished he would go away so that he wouldn’t ruin the perfection of her life. I get that Nick being caught up in this crime and his unwelcome reappearance is the source for the movie’s comedy, but I just fell so head over heels in love with Glenda and Ira’s life and was so content watching their bliss that I kind of didn’t need Nick at all. Don’t get me wrong it’s still a hilariously entertaining movie, but I also would have been fine if Seems Like Old Times were almost more like an updated version of Barefoot in the Park, and focused solely on the married couple and the highs and lows of their relationship. I found Simon’s writing as well as the performances of Grodin and Hawn to be so delightful that I can’t help but feel like Chase’s involvement felt almost unnecessary. Like, literally anything else (even  a multitude of things) could have been the catalyst for disrupting their peaceful life. 

What I really liked about Seems Like Old Times is that it feels like the pilot to a sitcom that I would absolutely watch. Which makes a lot of sense considering Sandrich is the director. Fun fact, this is the only movie directed by Sandrich though he’s famously directed many episodes of famous sitcoms. The amount of subtle physical comedy and over the top hysterics are so reminiscent of the best TV episodes that it just solidifies Seems Like Old Times as a grand ol’ fun time. It’s not really advertised as such, but Seems Like Old Times really is a comedy about how an ex-husband comes to turn the lives of a married couple upside down and that more than anything is what makes it so entertaining. The situation escalates to such ridiculous lengths and it requires the cast to soar to comedic heights. It’s great!

I would certainly watch this movie again and, if it were on sale for an affordable price, I may quite possibly actually buy it. Coming from me, that’s just about the highest praise a movie can get. The Simon hot streak continues and I can’t wait to check out the remaining 21 movies!

Have you seen Seems Like Old Times?

Let me know in the comments or on social media!

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