There is something immensely satisfying about seeing two comfortably rumpled movie veterans like Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau finding a comedy script worthy of their considerable talents.

That script is "Grumpy Old Men," which has the two playing their own ages — Lemmon is 68 and Matthau is 73 — as a pair of curmudgeons, former childhood pals, who still live next door to each other in a small Minnesota suburb. And they've been carrying on a feud for so many years that they're not really sure anymore what they're fighting about.

The stars use their mobile faces, their adept ability with double-takes and their perfect understanding of how to deliver comic dialogue to squeeze laughs out of just about every scene they're in.

And, fortunately, the material here (written by newcomer Mark Steven Johnson and directed by Donald Petrie, who also did "Mystic Pizza" and "Opportunity Knocks") is clever enough to lead them into some riotous situations, taking full advantage of the stars' abilities and making "Grumpy Old Men" perhaps the year's flat-outfunniest film.

Be advised, however, that the PG-13 rating is deserved — and perhaps a bit soft — here. The themes are adult in nature and the dialogue is occasionally quite risque.

Lemmon is a retired schoolteacher and Matthau a retired television repairman, whose second-greatest pleasure in life is making each other squirm, whether by insults or practical jokes. But their first love is ice fishing on a nearby lake in the dead of winter. And winter has come early this year, so they are in frozen heaven.

Both men have allowed their lives to deteriorate to a rut, and they've become complacent and stale. But not for long. Into a vacant house across the street moves vivacious and eccentric Ann-Margret, and both Lemmon and Matthau are smitten.

The turns taken by this romantic element are both unexpected and charming, with Ann-Margret getting the best role she's had in a long, long time, and there are also satisfying subplots about Lemmon dealing with a heartless IRS agent (Buck Henry) and trying to fix up his newly separated daughter with the new mayor, who also happens to be Matthau's son.

Other casting is equally delightful, with Kevin Pollak getting some warm and funny moments as Matthau's son and Ossie Davis delightfully playing a buddy who runs the local dinette/convenience store. Daryl Hannah has less to do but is also enjoyable as Lemmon's daughter.

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But there is a third grumpy old man here, Burgess Meredith as Lemmon's foul-mouthed, 94-year-old father — a scene-stealing part if ever there was one. He even gets the funniest — and raunchiest — lines in the end-credit outtakes! (Stay for all of those credits, by the way, as Matthau follows them with a closing punchline that is very funny.)

After watching the likes of Mike Myers and Dana Carvey mug through "Wayne's World 2," it's a pleasure to report that comic actors with genuine, character-driven talent are still making movies. And their names are Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau.

"Grumpy Old Men" is their fifth on-screen teaming. Let's hope it is not their last.

The film is rated PG-13 but is quite raunchy in places, with vulgar sexual dialogue and implied sex. There is also some profanity and comic violence.

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