By Rob Blackwelder
Walter Matthau couldn't be more perfectly cast as Joseph P. Kotcher in this warm-hearted 1971 dramedy about an annoyingly chatty granddad -- full of sports metaphors, stories of the old days and unsolicited advice -- who resists loneliness and his family's efforts to pack him off to a retirement home by moving to a ramshackle house outside of Palm Springs and taking a bewildered pregnant teenager (Deborah Winters) under his wing.
The first and only movie directed by Matthau's frequent on-screen partner Jack Lemmon, it's sentimental without being schmaltzy (although the tender-moments opening credits threaten otherwise), and often sharply funny as old man's waddling whimsy and the young girl's off-kilter way of looking at the world form a curious synchronicity. Unpredictable and charmingly droll, even after three decades of virtual obscurity "Kotch" does not seem dated in any way -- thanks in part to Matthau's timeless, cliché-skirting perfomance, which is well deserving of the Oscar nomination he received for this modest gem of a film.
*** out of ****
(116m | PG)