Reviewed byjimmylee-1Vote: 8/10/10
I've always thought of Neil Simon as being the one playwrightconsistently able to capture the genuine flavor of New York as abackdrop to the realistic personalities of his characters. Not being aNew Yorker - Silicon Valley is about as far away as you can get - I'mafraid I have not been drawn to movies of his plays as strongly as toother comedies.
But Prisoner of Second Avenue is an exception. Maybe it's because I amindeed in Silicon Valley, where layoffs are something we all get toexperience. But this movie captured so aptly the craziness of beinglaid off, staying home all day - seeing only the one you love (butstarting to hate him/her too as an extension of your own self-hatred).Making petty grievances huge, and trying to pretend the truly hugeissues no longer exist. And worrying about the bills, and the clothes,and how silly the family behaves when money gets involved. And how thebad luck seems to snowball. And how "therapy" sessions seem so futile.
The acting is superb - but I don't know of a movie where Jack Lemmonand Anne Bancroft have ever given us any less. Bancroft, in particular,when she makes the transition to anger, is perfect. Thankfully we'renot handed any sop at the end either.
The subject is so realistic that I don't find it funny at all - butthat's a failing of the times we live in, not the movie. A great flick.
Reviewed byblanche-2Vote: 8/10/10
That moment of Anne Bancroft's is my favorite part of the entire film,often imitated where I used to work.
No one loves urban blight like Neil Simon, and no one depicts it aswell. "The Prisoner of Second Avenue" goes much further than "The Outof Towners" because now, the leads (Jack Lemmon and Anne Bancroft) areactually living in a New York apartment, sleeping in 12 degree airconditioning in their bedroom during a heat wave and sweatingeverywhere else. Simon leaves nothing out: not having the right changefor the bus, the elevator being out, no water, noisy neighbors, meanneighbors, a cheaply put together building, robberies in broaddaylight, etc. Lemmon plays a 22-year veteran of a business who isfired, suffers a nervous breakdown, and goes into psychiatric care. Hisproblems go beyond the loss of his job - he has to cope with hiscountry dwelling brother Harry (Gene Saks) and his two sisters(Elizabeth Wilson and Florence Stanley) who want to help but onlysucceed in being aggravating. Also, his wife has gone back to work as aproduction assistant and is never home.
This is really a comedy-drama that shows the enormous range of bothactors. The beautiful Bancroft is great as an empty nester who tries tobe supportive of her husband, who is losing it, as she goes toward thesame territory; Lemmon is alternatively a riot, as annoying as FelixUnger, and as sad as his character in "Save the Tiger" while heattempts to work through his issues and find out who he is.
With a high rise at Second Avenue and E. 88th St. as a backdrop, "ThePrisoner of Second Avenue" is timely today because it takes placeduring a recession. Suddenly, a lifestyle that wasn't so outrageous tobegin with is hard to keep up, and nerves fray.
City dwellers won't find it difficult to relate to this film, andtoday, with jobs cuts and loss of income, nobody will. Lots of fun.
Reviewed bymichael_the_nermalVote: 8/10/10
After giving a positive review of the (apparently) universally-maligned"Disaster Movie", I thought it'd be nice to give another positivereview of a comedy that, unlike the one I've mentioned, is very-wellwritten and stars the cream of the Broadway crop. Jack Lemmon isexcellent as the neurotic and ambiguously-crazy apartment dweller,harried as he is by noisy neighbors, chronic unemployment, andSylvester Stallone bumping into him at the park. Neil Simon is amaestro of dark comedies about harried New Yorkers ("Biloxi Blues" withMatthew Broderick is another excellent example). In spite of Simon'scool dialogue and ability to make brilliant observations about minorevents (such as a ransacked apartment), this movie would not be superbwithout Lemmon's proficient performance. Anne Bancroft seems like theperfect foil for Lemmon to play off against, and she fulfills that rollbeautifully. Lemmon shows he as just as brilliant with comedy as he isdrama (i.e. "The China Syndrome"), and this movie is just anotherexample of why he was an underrated Hollywood legend.
P.S. Pay close attention to the one-liners disguised as news reports inthe voice-overs by Gary Owens.
The story of Mel and Edna ( and ), a middle-class, middle-aged, middle-happy couple living in a Manhattan high rise apartment building. Mel loses his job, the apartment is robbed, Edna gets a job, Mel loses his mind, Edna loses her job . . . to say nothing of the more minor tribulations of nosy neighbors, helpful relatives and exact bus fares. The couple suffers indignity after indignity (some self-inflicted) and when they seem on the verge of surrender, they thumb their noses defiantly and dig the trenches for battle.