Grumpy Old Men is a 1993 American romantic comedy-drama film starring Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau and Ann-Margret, with Burgess Meredith, Daryl Hannah, Kevin Pollak, Ossie Davis and Buck Henry. Directed by Donald Petrie,
Retirees John Gustafson (Lemmon) who used to be a retired high school history teacher and Max Goldman (Matthau) a retired tv repair man are childhood friends, longtime rivals and next-door neighbors in Wabasha, Minnesota. Both of them are widowed men. Their rivalry began decades earlier when John married Max’s high school sweetheart, May. That is when started becoming rivals. John had an happy marriage with her for 20 years and had two children: a daughter, Melanie(Daryl Hannah) and son, Brian who died in Vietnam. Max went on to marry Amy and had a son, Jacob(Kevin Pollack). Max never regretted marrying Amy, marrying her was the best thing that ever happened to him. Despite their differences, both men lead boring and lonely single lives, and share a love for ice fishing, as well as competing, arguing, insulting, and pulling cruel practical jokes on each other. However, John has a problem that Max doesn’t: he owes tens of thousands of dollars in back taxes to the Internal Revenue Service, and is going to great lengths to avoid agent Elliot Snyder (Buck Henry).
When beautiful college professor Ariel Truax (Ann-Margret) moves in across the street, Max and John’s rivalry is renewed as they compete for her attention. Early on, Ariel spends time with Max, which secretly angers John. While fighting with Max, John inadvertently opens the door to find Agent Snyder and is forced to meet with him. Things do not end all badly for John, however: Ariel decides to cook him dinner and spend the evening together.
As Ariel spends more and more time with John, Max becomes angry, eventually ramming his truck into John’s fishing shanty to push it into the lake. Convinced Max has gone too far this time, John confronts him. Max accuses John of stealing Ariel away like he did with May. Angered, John points out May’s sexual prowess and thought he was saving Max from an unhappy marriage. He reminds Max that he was better off with Amy because she was a loving and loyal wife. Max agrees with John but still hasn’t forgiven him for it. He reminds John that he will have no way to support her when the IRS takes his house. Max’s attempt at shame works, and John breaks up with Ariel despite having fallen in love with her. Ariel is offended and eventually takes up with Max while John sinks into a deep depression.
Christmas Eve arrives, and John’s depression comes to a head. Angered over the fact that Melanie has forgiven Michael, John’s son-in-law, whom he’s not fond of, he confronts her and tells her to go through the divorce, or she will never be happy again. After a fight with his son-in-law over his mistreatment of Melanie, John tells Michael to leave and never come back. He storms out of the house and heads to the local bar. Max’s son, Jacob, witnesses the end of the argument and convinces Max to go talk to John. At the bar, John eventually admits to Max that he loves Ariel and believes Max doesn’t understand the depression he felt in having to let her go. However, he also says it does not make any difference because Max got what he wanted, and decides to head home. Max, unsatisfied, follows John into the snow, wanting to make things right. By the time Max catches up to John, he finds him in a snow drift, experiencing a massive heart attack. After seeing John in the hospital, Max decides to tell Ariel what happened the next morning. She rushes to his bedside, and the two reconcile as he recovers. Max decide to step aside and let Ariel be with John.
Max tries to help John with his taxes, but because of the penalties induced by late payments, Snyder informs him that John owes $57,000 and the only way he could pay it off is if they sell his house. Angered by Snyder’s lack of sympathy, Max pays him back with an old fish prank, having his newly elected mayor son, Jacob, to cancel the sale by banning him from entering the house and an old snow pile trick.
Winter turns to spring, and John and Ariel get married. As a wedding gift, Max reveals to John that he was able to get his tax debt reduced to what he originally owed and that he paid it off himself. The day and the film end with Max heading off to a local dance at the VFW, leaving Jacob alone in the house. As luck would have it, Melanie is also home by herself and the two decide to make an attempt to find romance with each other.