By Richard Winters
My Rating: 6 out of 10
4-Word Review: He needs a girlfriend.
This film almost seems like an extension of Steve Martin’s character in The Jerk and could probably be retitled ‘The Jerk Goes to the Big Apple’. Here we find the same incredibly vapid, highly benign character looking for love and adjusting to the pitfalls of being single.
Like with The Jerk the film taps into the same absurd type of humor some of which is quite funny, but other parts become stretched and even stupid. The best stuff comes at the beginning and then starts to get strained by the end. There is no real story and the whole thing is just loosely structured hit-or-miss comical bits casually tied around the theme of loneliness.
Based on the novel by Bruce Jay Friedman the script was written by Neil Simon, Ed Weinberger and Stan Daniels three titans of comedy who have written some smart stuff in the past and yet I found their script here to be a bit annoying. It takes on the serious issue of social alienation with kid gloves. The points that it makes are superficial with no effort to dig deeper or make any type of real statement. The single male characters are too hopeless and needy and too much emphasis is placed on relationships and the misconception that people who are in them are always happier than those who are not. It also acts like being in relationships will somehow solve everything.
Judith Ivey makes a nice addition as Martin’s eventual girlfriend. She is not glamorously beautiful and therefore the two make a nice and realistic looking pairing. Her scenes and interactions with Martin make the film much stronger.
Unfortunately with Charles Grodin, who is dynamic at dry deadpan humor, is not used to his full potential. Merv Griffin has an unfunny cameo and the recently departed Joyce Brothers also appears with her nerdette persona that was beginning to wear thin. Singer Steve Lawrence is completely miscast as a ‘chick-magnet’.
The bit involving lonely men jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge every two minutes borders on being tasteless and the running gag involving Ivey having an orgasm every time a man sneezes is just plain dumb. However, the part where Martin argues with a policeman over whether the poop on the sidewalk is from his dog is a gem. There is also a hilarious bit involving Groodin throwing a party with cardboard cutouts of famous movie stars as his ‘guests’ although don’t look for one of Gene Hackman because his have to be reserved one-week in advance!
My Rating: 6 out of 10
Released: January 27, 1984
Runtime: 1Hour 30Minutes
Director: Arthur Hiller
Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video
I do love Martin and the 80s were great for him with hits like Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid in 1982, The Man with Two Brains in 1983 and All of Me in 1984. I’ll fault him for a few duds. A balanced review Richard.