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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

The Survivors (1983)



Reviews and Comments

Michael Ritchie's often funny, often not comedy The Survivors could have benefited from more discipline in the editing room. Some scenes work beautifully -- there are several moments where horrific things happen so unexpectedly, without the usual cinematic cues, that their impact takes a moment to sink in, and when it does, it's somehow the better for it. Some scenes have a dead ring to them -- moments of weirdness that are supposed to be funny but aren't.

Unfortunately, the number of weak scenes increases as the movie progresses, making a movie less satisfying than it should have been. About the time one of the characters goes off to a loony survival camp, things go downhill fast. However, there are some genuinely funny moments here, and it's hard not to enjoy the movie's offbeat, unconventional sense.

The movie pairs Walter Matthau with a young Robin Williams. Both have had recent calamities in their lives, and both happen to be in a bar when it gets held up. They foil the robber, but he gets away. The episode has a profound impact on their lives -- it affects Williams psychologically, instilling in him a rashness that, as a side-effect, gets Matthau into a lot of trouble, particularly with the escaped robber, played effectively by Jerry Reed.