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California Suite


1978's CALIFORNIA SUITE features four different stories of folks checking into a west coast luxury hotel for the weekend, all created by the witty pen of Neil Simon.

Alan Alda and Jane Fonda are a separated couple bickering over where their teenage daughter is going to live, in NYC with career mom Fonda or in LA with easy going dad Alda.

Both actors are good, and their segment is witty and serious, but as with most Simon flicks, real people don't talk like this.

Our second couple, Maggie Smith and Michael Caine, are terrific as an Oscar nominated actress and her husband in Los Angeles for the Academy Awards. Caine is always slightly in her shadow and has at least one big secret he is hiding (not too successfully) in the darkness.

Walter Matthau scores the film's biggest laughs, trying to hide a drunken hooker in his bed that his brother sent to the room the night before. When wife Elaine May arrives a half day early, the physical comedy and the laughs are frequent. These two classic comedians play off each other to perfection.

Bill Cosby and Richard Pryor round out the cast as brothers-in-law who are both doctors and constantly competing at everything. Their sports, room and verbal one-upsmanship is fun to watch.

Overall, California Suite a very enjoyable, relaxing two hours, as long as you buy into Simon's witty but showy wordplay and excuse some of the more dated moments.

It's a great cast that checks in for the weekend and earns a B-. (but Matthau gets an A+!)

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