Out to Sea

Last updated
Out to Sea
Out to sea poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Martha Coolidge
Produced by John Davis
David T. Friendly
Written by Robert Nelson Jacobs
Music byMichael Muhlfriedel
David Newman
Cinematography Lajos Koltai
Edited by Anne V. Coates
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date
  • July 2, 1997 (1997-07-02)
Running time
109 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office$30,716,901

Out to Sea is a 1997 American 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; Mulhare 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 brother-in-law, widower Herb Sullivan, whose wife Susie 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. They must sleep in a cramped cabin in the bowels of the ship, and if they do not dance, they will get fired and have to pay nearly $3,000 (later Herb finds out it's really over $5,000) 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 and 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 came on board the ship to land a rich man.

By the time Charlie literally drags ship owner Mrs. Carruthers across the dance floor in a clumsy manner, yet surprisingly greatly pleases Mrs. Carruthers. Charlie sets up Mrs. Caruthers to meet Gil 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 decides against starting a new relationship with Vivian until Charlie reminds him 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.

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 two 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 flare 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 torn 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.



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". [1]

The film currently holds a 36% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 22 reviews, with an average rating of 5.3/10. [2] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 49 out of 100, based on 14 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". [3] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade of "B+" on scale of A+ to F. [4]

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  1. Maslin, Janet (July 2, 1997). "On Board and on the Loose". The New York Times . The New York Times Company. Retrieved April 11, 2018.
  2. "Out to Sea (1997)". Rotten Tomatoes . Fandango Media . Retrieved April 11, 2018.
  3. "Out to Sea Reviews". Metacritic . CBS Interactive . Retrieved April 11, 2018.
  4. "Cinemascore". CinemaScore . Archived from the original on 2018-12-20.