The Sunshine Boys (1975)




Critic Consensus: Thanks to the sparkling chemistry between its stars and Herbert Ross' gentle direction, this sweetly ambling comedy ranks among Neil Simon's finest screen adaptations.

Movie Info

The Sunshine Boys tells the story of two feuding, crotchety former vaudeville performers (George Burns and Walter Matthau) who are persuaded to reunite for a television special. Working off Neil Simon's adaptation of his hit Broadway play, director Herbert Ross creates a very funny and engaging comedy with the assistance of his two leading men, who both give excellent performances. The Sunshine Boys was Burns' first starring role since 1939's Honolulu and he won the Academy Award for his … More

Rating: PG
Genre: Drama, Classics, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Neil Simon
In Theaters:
On DVD: Mar 30, 2004
MGM Home Entertainment


as Willy Clark

as Al Lewis

as Ben Clark

as Mrs. Doris Green, Al...

as Nurse in Sketch

as Ben's Wife Helen

as Commercial Director

as TV Director

as TV Floor Manager

as Man at Audition

as Man at Audition

as Stage Manager

as Desk Clerk

as Patient

as Card Player

as Assistant at Auditio...

as Woman in Hotel

as Man on Street

as Mr. Ferranti

as Herself

as Himself

as TV Executive

as Ben's Secretary

as Delivery Boy

as Delivery Boy

as Lewis' Daughter Dori...
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for The Sunshine Boys

All Critics (22) | Top Critics (4)

The Sunshine Boys is an extremely sensitive and lovable film version of Neil Simon's play, with Walter Matthau and George Burns outstanding in their starring roles as a pair of long-hostile vaudeville partners.

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

Mr. Matthau is so good playing old men, we may never know when he finally becomes one.

Full Review… | May 9, 2005
New York Times
Top Critic

Neil Simon's most irritating play is no less agonizing on the screen under Herbert Ross's sycophantic direction.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Aging comics sparkle, swear, and spar in Neil Simon farce.

Full Review… | July 15, 2014
Common Sense Media

Great chemistry between the two great comic leads and some pretty decent one-liners but this doesn't manage to hold together as a feature-length concept.

Full Review… | October 22, 2013
Empire Magazine

Audience Reviews for The Sunshine Boys


Two octogenarian former comedians reunite for one last show after a contentious separation.
Neil Simon, famed for his dialogue and witticisms, may have written some funny scenes and plays, but as a whole, this isn't one of them. Yes, the monologue of Walter Matthau's character listing funny words is classic, but most of the film is filled with tired jokes that Matthau and George Burns, kyphotic to a fault, stumble through. The plot is basically predictable, and the filmmaking is not dynamic.
Overall, some of the film is funny, but it doesn't hold together beyond being a collection of sketches.

Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer


Matthau e Burns, juntos com o maravilhoso roteiro de Neil Simon, fazem com que seja uma viagem de gargalhadas e ótima diversão. Distaque para a atuação de Burns, que ganhou o Oscar por este papel.

Lucas Martins
Lucas Martins

Super Reviewer

If you've ever had a strong desire to hang out with hard-of-hearing, incontinent and embittered elderly at a nursing home for two hours, then I strongly suggest you watch this movie first, as it will undoubtably cure you of this. Walter Matthau yells, hollers and bellows his dialogue in a manner that must've left him exhausted after each day of filming, or at least with a bad case of laryngitis. He plays a character so grating, it borders on torture to watch. In fact, this might be a good film subject Al-qaeda suspects to (with the volume turned up, for full bellowing effect). While I don't have any actual quotes from the movie, I think I can give a basic idea of the humor found in it:
Old Man: "Where's the bathroom?"
woman: "Sir, this is a pay phone"
Old Man: "What?"
woman: "I said, 'Sir, this is a pay phone"
Old Man: "So? Why are you telling me this for?"
woman: "You asked where the bathroom is"
Old Man: "You think I don't know this? What is this?"
woman: "Would you please leave?"
Old Man: "Huh?? What?? Bathroom??? Phone Booth???"

(10 minutes later)

Old man: "So what, you gonna let me use the bathroom now?"

...annd scene.

Walter Matthau plays an old vaudeville entertainer who's fallen on hard times, and as the movie opens, he's going out on commercial auditions. But, rather than go to the building where auditions are being held, he goes to an auto garage and insists on doing the audition for the mechanic, who is about as amused by this as I was. If Walter Matthau is playing an older character (than he was at the time), then George Burns is somehow playing a YOUNGER character (than he was at the time), and yet, he still seems more together than what Matthau is supposed to be. You see, the two of them were the great vaudeville comedy team "Lewis and Clark", and they've been at each other's throats for years since their retirement. When Clark's nephew (Richard Benjamin) gets them booked on a tv retrospective, they have to somehow learn to work together again. But after being subjected to Matthau's "louder equals funnier" performance for the entire first half of the movie, I had no interest in how the rest of the plot would play out. Neil Simon's screenplay is awkward, obvious, elementary and plodding. This movie actually plays better as a drama than a comedy. I don't find it cute when old people act like infants and I don't enjoy listening to people yelling at one another. My question is, are there people who do enjoy this?

Mr Awesome
Devon Bott

Super Reviewer

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