Out to Sea is a 1997 romantic comedy film starring Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Rue McClanahan, Dyan Cannon and Brent Spiner. It was the final film for Donald O'Connor, Gloria DeHaven and Edward Mulhare. The latter died on May 24, 1997, almost six weeks before the film's release.
Out to Sea was directed by Martha Coolidge, with a screenplay by Robert Nelson Jacobs. The original music score was composed by Michael Muhlfriedel and David Newman.
Compulsive gambler Charlie Gordon, cons his close friend and brother-in-law, widower Herb Sullivan, whose recently deceased wife, Susie Gordon-Sullivan, was Charlie's sister, into an all expenses-paid luxury Holland America Mexican cruise. The catch, which Charlie does not reveal to Herb until the ship has left port, is that they are required to work as dance hosts and must sleep in a cramped cabin in the bowels of the ship. If they do not dance, they will get fired and have to pay nearly 3,000 dollars (later Herb finds out it's really over 5000 dollars) for the cruise or get thrown off the ship.
Ruled over by tyrannical, control-freak cruise director Gil Godwyn ("a song and dance man raised on a military base"), they do their best, despite Charlie's not actually being able to dance. Each meets a lady of interest. One is the luscious heiress Liz LaBreche, whose wealth attracts Charlie every bit as much as the rest of her does even though her wealth isn't real. The other is lovely widow Vivian who was a successful book editor, who is under the impression that Herb is really a doctor, not a dancer. Vivian came on board on the ship with her daughter and her newlywed husband to help her start dating again. After finally telling her the truth, Herb soon finds himself quite attracted to Vivian, and eventually the feeling becomes mutual. However, Herb is still very much in love with Susie which conflicts his very growing feelings for Vivian, leading him to eventually stand her up on the day that they were supposed to view the rare solar eclipse together. Charlie doesn't know that Liz is broke and he came on board this ship, to land a rich man.
Herb decides against starting a new relationship with Vivian until Charlie reminds that Susie was his sister, long before she was Herb's wife, emphasizing that Susie would never want Herb to spend the rest of his life completely alone and unhappy. (Charlie: "Will you stop using Susie as a safety net?" Herb: "Wait a minute. Who in the hell are you to tell me...?" Charlie: "She was my sister before she was your wife. And if she were here now, she'd tell ya the same thing." Herb: "Ah, but she is not here now, is she Charlie? She's gone." Charlie: "That's right Herb, but you're not."). The message finally sinks in.
By the time Charlie literally drags ship owner Mrs. Carruthers across the dance floor in clumsy yet surprisingly greatly pleases Mrs. Carruthers. Charlie sets up Mrs. Caruthers to meet in the latter's room under difference circumstances that neither are true. He being told he's about to get a big promotion and her thinking he's romantically interested in her. This was set in motion to enable Charlie to continue his charade and he and Liz spend the night together. During the eclipse, Charlie and Liz propose to each other and make plans to get married immediately. Liz's mom is ecstatic to having landed a rich guy, yet Liz has lost interest in how much money Charlie may have and is truly falling in love with him. However, Gil, figuring out that Charlie was in his room busts him in front of Liz and her mother who promptly dumps him and they decide to leave the cruise immediately.
They make their getaway with Vivian on a plane. Herb and Charlie both realizing they are really in love with the women decide to go after them. Herb and Charlie are preparing to launch a lifeboat to get off the ship. Gil finds them and Herb finally stands up to him and tells him off. This sets off Gil who goes on a total tirade as Herb & Charlie leave, however Mrs. Caruthers is there with 2 other dance hosts and hears him say disparaging remarks about her. She promptly fires him, calling him an asshole and giving his job to one of the other dance hosts. Herb and Charlie find the plane trying to fly and call out to all to come back. They set off a flair that Vivian sees and reminds him of a story he told her. The plans lands and everyone tells the truth about everything. Charlie and Liz still continue dating, but Charlie made some good money that he won on a poker game from a rich guy that he had originally tore up to impress Liz and he later taped it back together. Herb and Vivian are together as well.
End credits show bloopers and that Gil is now just a dance host and is absolutely miserable.Jack Lemmon - Herb Sullivan
Walter Matthau - Charlie Gordon
Dyan Cannon - Liz LaBreche
Gloria DeHaven - Vivian
Brent Spiner - Gil Godwyn
Elaine Stritch - Mavis LaBreche
Estelle Harris - Bridget
Hal Linden - Mac Valor
Donald O'Connor - Jonathan Devereaux
Edward Mulhare - Cullen Carswell
Rue McClanahan - Ellen Carruthers
The movie received an unenthusiastic review from Janet Maslin in The New York Times. She described the film as a "weak but genial romp." She credits Brent Spiner as a funny "scene-stealer" and says that Ms DeHaven is "almost as pretty" in this film as she was in Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times (1936), and says that Donald O'Connor's dancing "draw[s] a well-deserved round of applause".
The film currently holds a 38% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 21 reviews.