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In Brief: "The Long Way Home"

Hitchhiker Jack Lemmon thumbs up his life.

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In The Long Way Home (Sunday, March 1; 9 to 11 p.m.; CBS), we get Jack Lemmon as a retired cabinetmaker who ends up hitchhiking from Kansas to Carmel, California, in the unlikely company of New Age teenybopper Sarah Paulson. Jack’s excuse is that he doesn’t have anything better to do, his daughter-in-law (Kristin Griffith) fusses too much, and he just got a letter from the woman he really wanted to marry 55 years ago (Betty Garrett). Sarah’s excuse is that her rich, wheelchair-bound, Emily Dickinson-quoting father (Peter Dvorsky) may be dying; her boyfriend isn’t serious; and her expensive car was run off the road by a couple of predatory louts. Jack and Sarah constitute a quest. Together, they will relocate ultimate truth in the bosom of neglected family. The message on Sarah’s sweatshirt is partially revealing: JUST SAY MAYBE. So is her father’s Eleventh Commandment: THOU SHALT NOT TAP-DANCE. Glenn Jordan’s direction of a William Hanley rewrite of a French telefilm I haven’t seen, Thomas Guerin . . . Retraite, lets us enjoy two actors so comfortable in each other’s company, we’d want them in our own family. Critics have nipped at Lemmon for years -- he never grew up, or seems exhausted; he’s too tenderhearted, or just a grouch -- but I’ve never seen him sell a role short in anything on a big screen or a small one.


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