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Goodbye Girl Movie Review (8/10)

Posted on January 10th, 2003 filed in Movie Reviews    |   

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Paula (Marsha Mason), a single mom with a precocious 10 year old daughter Lucy (Quinn Cummings), comes home to find that the man she is seeing abondonned her. Left with no money or job, she is further dismayed to find out that he sublet their NY apartment to Elliot (Richard Dreyfuss), a Chicago actor that then arrives for an off-Broadway acting job. Paula is left with no choice but to share the apartment with him despite her significantly disliking him.


‘The Goodbye Girl’ was released back in 1977 and remains today one of my most favorite romantic movies of all time with a smooth and elegant script, lots of warmth, and classic performances by the trio (Dreyfuss, Mason, and Cummings).

Neil Simon script is solid, witty, funny at times, and warm at others. Reportedly, it is based on Neil Simon’s actual marriage with Marsha Mason). It succeeds in conveying the correct mood as the relationship between Eliott and Lucy, and Eliott and Paula unfold. There are no twists or other complicating factors here. Just a warm romantic story with lots of charm and finesse. And it works.

Dreyfuss is a classic and delivers one of his best performances. I have been a big fan of Richard ever since I saw ‘Once Around’, his later (1991) romantic beauty with Holly Hunter . Again he excels here in the comic, romantic, and dramatic nuances of his character, an unemployed actor, with massive movie knowledge, passionate about what he does, and the woman he falls in love with. My favorite line of his here is (as he pulls one pair of panties off the shower curtain rod with each phrase) “And I don’t like the panties hanging on the rod”. My favorite scene is when he pulls a Bogart at the roof.

His performance here earnt him the ‘Best Actor’ Oscar (beating such heavyweights as Richard Burton, Woody Allen, and John Travolta (for his career marking role, Saturday Night Fever) ). Of note here is that Dreyfuss was then the youngest (29) actor to win the Best Actor Academy Award, a record that he still keeps today.

Both Cummings and Mason (Who was at the time married to Neil Simon) were also nominated for the Oscar and they, too, deliver.

Cumming is actually quite impressive and it’s not clear as to why she then disappeared from the screen world. Seems like a wasted talent to me as her Lucy rendition is quite flawless. She’s the spotlight of many of her scenes. My favorites are her film trivia exchanges with Elliott and when she tells him that she thought he has done a really great job knowing very well of the contrary.

Highly recommended viewing for all ages and a must have as part of any personal DVD collection.

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