Hopscotch (1980) Review

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Grumpy old spies

Hopscotch (1980): 7 out of 10:  Hopscotch is a pleasant adult comedy about a CIA field agent (Walter Matthau) forced behind a desk by a new boss (Ned Beatty) and having his young protege (Sam Waterston) take his place. He leaves the CIA instead.

He hides out with an old flame (Glenda Jackson) who is both recently widowed and recently rich while pursued to turn sides by his old adversary an amiable KGB officer (Herbert Lom)

The Good

The Good: Amiable is a good word for this entire film. Walter Matthau does nothing to surprise keeping in his pleasant but rascally grandpa mode he would use to such great effect a few years later in Grumpy Old Men. Despite the globe-trotting, the occasional gunfire and explosion there really is never a sense of threat to anyone. Atomic Blonde this is not.

As for the rest of the cast. Sam Waterston gives a pleasant performance as the protege, Ned Beatty seems to channel Jackie Gleason in Smokey and the Bandit (with even less menace) and Herbert Lom is the kindest most relaxed KGB bureau chief you will ever see.

The Bad

The Bad: Glenda Jackson (who is fine) plays an ex-agent who got out when the CIA started getting too rough. It’s that old it wasn’t like this in the old days chestnut. The only problem with this theme is that anyone with a cursory knowledge of the CIA would know it was much rougher and no holds barred in the sixties and early seventies than it was under Carter after the Church Committee hearings. Too much paperwork or your not allowed to torture anymore would be a more accurate complaint but alas would not fit into the theme of the film.

In Conclusion

In Conclusion: If you like Walter Matthau, you will like this film. It really is grumpy old spies. They dropped some “f” bombs in the script so it could get an “R” rating in the US and to market to an older crowd. There is nothing here in reality that would offend grandma or the grandkids. One trivial aside, there is a scene in a Hilton in London where they use key cards to get into their hotel room. I had no idea hotels had that in the late seventies. Hopscotch is a fun, relaxing, funny movie.

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Awesome post! Keep up the great work! 🙂