Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

"Kotch" Catches Matthau as a Garrulous Grandpa

Cleveland Press October 23, 1971

There are great movies and awful movies and message movies and movies that say nothing.

And then there are movies that are just nice. Know what I mean? Movies that don't come at you like a clap of thunder but offer more plain enjoyment than many more pretentious films.

"Kotch" is that kind of a movie.

In "Kotch" Walter Matthau has a chance to play someone other than Walter Matthau. He is an aged, retired man who dotes on his tiny grandson. He is extremely garrulous and his conversations not only go off on tangents, the tangents have tangents.

His daughter-in-law (he lives with his married son) has pretty well had it -- what with all his talking, taking over with her child and his always leaving the toilet seat up.

She replaces gramps with a teenage baby sitter and she and her husband take him on a tour of retirement homes.

Kotch (short of Joseph P. Kotcher) is a self-styled expert on many things -- medical symptoms, psychological matters and post-natal depression. He may dodder a bit, but he's not dumb.

He takes off on his own but while wandering in and out discovers that the babysitter (Deborah Winters) has left town, tossed out of school and home for being pregnant and unwed.

He tracks her down, offers a helping hand, then rents himself a house and takes her in. He not only sees her through her pregnancy but delivers the baby in a service station restroom.

This sounds very sticky and sentimental but it doesn't come out that way. Matthau is too funny and Jack Lemmon, directing a movie for the first time, has not allowed matters to become cloying. Over all, humor and sentiment he spills a little lemon juice and the slightly acerbic touch gives the whole affair just the right flavor.

The best of it all is Matthau and holding her own better than well is the young Miss Winters. It's a great combination -- Matthau, shuffling, constantly talking, a fine dignity showing through; and Miss Winters, gritty, tart, yet with the awakening softness of motherhood. The scenes between them are about as fine as you will see anywhere.

By all means, catch "Kotch." It's a fine movie.