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Lifelong-rivals Max Goldman (Walter Matthau) and John Gustafson (Jack Lemmon) are now reluctant friends, with their children engaged to each other. Anyway Gustafson is enjoying his still recent marriage to Ariel Truax (Ann Margret). Both aging men are looking forward to the opening of the fishing season in their native Wabasha, Minnesota, to engage in their annual hunt of the "Catfish Hunter", the lake's largest catfish. Learning to their disappointment that the only local bait shop is closing. Maria Ragetti (Sophia Loren), its new owner, is converting it to an Italian restaurant.
The two guys start trying to sabotage her efforts, hoping the establishment will remain a bait shop. But this enrages Ariel. Who forces her husband to apologize to Maria. Unfortunately, his idea of apologizing involves sharing a bottle of brandy with the lady. He ends up sleeping the entire night in the restaurant. With Ariel concluding he is having an affair. This also annoys Max who finds himself attracted to Maria. Maria herself is reluctant to have a new romance, she has had five failed marriages. She is not looking forward to a sixth failure. Meanwhile, the kids (Kevin Pollak and Daryl Hannah) have relationships problems of their own.
The film was a modest box office hit, earning $71,518,503 in the United States market. It was the 20th most successful film of its year. It was a swan song for actor Burgess Meredith (1907-1997) who was playing John's father. Meredith had to retire from acting due to the effects from Alzheimer's disease and had trouble even completing this film.
This film contains examples of:
- Bilingual Bonus: Maria and her mother both speak a fair amount of Italian.
- Continuity Nod: "I'd rather kiss a dead moose's butt".
- Dirty Old Man: Grandpa Gustafson takes it Up To 11.
- Distracted by the Sexy: Max, when Maria talks to him in the bar. He gets better.
- Grandma, What Massive Hotness You Have!: Both Ariel and Maria are very attractive.
- John Gustafson is also quite handsome.
- Hilarious Outtakes
- Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Ariel in the first movie
- Mistaken for Cheating: John Gustafson. He spend the night with Maria but they were drunk and sleeping, not having sex.
- Mood Whiplash: Goes from a goofy comedy to incredibly sad when Grandpa Gustafson dies.
- Really Gets Around: It's revealed in the climax that Maria has been married and divorced five times.
- Wedding Day: We're made to think it's Jacob's wedding, but it's really Max and Maria's.