‘Grumpy Old Men’ is a romantic comedy directed by Donald Petrie. The movie, which stars Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, and Ann-Margret, revolves around two fifty-something neighbours whose feud since childhood worsens when they are both attracted to a new neighbour.
The movie is set in Wabasha, Minnesota, where neighbours John Gustafson (played by Jack Lemmon) and Max Goldman (Walter Matthau) are two elderly widowers who were friends during their early years but later become rivals. Their rivalry starts when John and Max argue about something trivial. Now rivals, the two men compete about everything. Their feud also includes playing childish pranks on each other. For example, Max deliberately changes John’s television channel by using a universal remote through the window. In return, John also plays practical jokes on him by throwing a dead fish inside Max’s truck. Their rivalry continues when Max’s childhood sweetheart gets married to John. Now, at the age of 50, John and Max are still unfriendly towards one another. Their rivalry intensifies when Ariel Truax (Ann-Margret), a new neighbour who is also a widow, arrives in the neighbourhood. Upon meeting Ariel, John and Max are both instantly attracted to her. Even though many other men are also smitten by Ariel, she seems interested only in John and Max.
Later, when Max notices that Ariel seems to spend more time with his rival, Max plots a wicked scheme against John. He drives John’s truck into a frozen lake where it sinks deep down to the bottom. This incident leads to a fight, which heats up their rivalry even more.