More in-depth film festival coverage than any other website!
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 

Overall Rating

Awesome: 24.75%
Worth A Look31.68%
Average: 10.89%
Pretty Bad: 11.88%
Total Crap: 20.79%

2 reviews, 89 user ratings

Latest Reviews

Profile by Jay Seaver

Scythian, The by Jay Seaver

Aragne: Sign of Vermillion by Jay Seaver

Cold Steel by Jack Sommersby

Microhabitat by Jay Seaver

Last Child by Jay Seaver

Nightmare Cinema by Jay Seaver

Hotel Transylvania 3 by alejandroariera

Tremble All You Want by Jay Seaver

Skyscraper by Peter Sobczynski

subscribe to this feed

Goodbye Girl, The (2004)
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Jack Sommersby

"Just Another Needless Remake"
1 stars

No one was asking for this remake, especially one so unbearably inept.

Neil Simon's Oscar-nominated screenplay for 1977's The Goodbye Girl wasn't anything particularly great (and neither was the Academy's judgment that year -- it also nominated the screenplay for the mawkish dance melodrama The Turning Point), but it was mostly enjoyable and showcased its fair share of crackling, funny one-liners, with the majority of them landing their way into the court of an obscenely-talented, up-and-coming actor named Richard Dreyfuss, who tucked every damn one of them under his capable mitts and ran all the way to a deserved Best Actor Oscar. The keys to the film's success were the rat-a-tat delivery of the sprightly dialogue, the alertness of the actors, their desire to hungrily pounce on their lines and devour every last syllable, and also their basic understanding that the dialogue was the film. It wasn't that the characters were two-dimensional, exactly, only that Simon's weakness at adroit story construction and his strength at witty gab superimposed a reliance on the latter onto the actors for the film to succeed; to have mostly relied mostly on its Manhattan-set story-- that of Dreyfuss' eccentric actor Elliot Garfield's dogged determination to melt the closed-off heart of unlucky-in-love ex-dancer Marsha Mason's Paula McFadden, whose former beau, an actor, not only suddenly left her but sub-let the apartment her and her daughter were living in to pal Elliott without Paula's knowledge (the three of them became forced-upon-each-other roommates) -- would have been pedestrian, so the dialogue and the adept delivery of it is where the success of the film lay; and thanks to on-target work by its spirited actors, a success it indeed was, however slight in places. But for a film that barely managed to skate by twenty-eight years ago to be remade for television and given a mere touch-up by the same writer was just asking for trouble, with the problem compounded by mistakes in the selection of both the actors and the director. The result is admittedly harmless but so impersonal and lethargic that you'd be better off watching any fifteen-minute section from the original than its successor in its one-hundred-and-three-minute entirety.

Jeff Daniels, as Elliot, has been a valuable talent since breaking through with superb performances as Debra Winger's unfaithful husband in Terms of Endearment and the duplicitous movie star in The Purple Rose of Cairo, and gosh knows I welcome his appealing presence in a film far more than Hollywood's afforded me of it, but, for lack of a better word, he lacks the necessary "juice" for the role. Where Dreyfuss tossed off his dialogue with aplomb and skittered about the scenes with the pep of a Mexican jumping bean (he suggested someone so full of life that performing on stage wasn't enough to satisfy his joie de vivre), Daniels has taken a more contemplative, measured approach, and the performance goes nowhere; he can't act in a loose, uninhibited manner, and when he tries, the effort shows (as it did when playing opposite a rabid Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber). Daniels can play an emotion and ground it, but he can't take a Simon line and punch it, so when his character is rain-soaked and begging to be let into his sub-let apartment in the middle of the night he's incorrigible, but when he's informing Paula of his penchant for sleeping in the nude and his disapproval of Paula's panties hanging in the shower he seems to be running lines with someone off-camera during rehearsal. And he's not helped by the dreadful Patricia Heaton as Paula. Heaton, an actress I've never laid eyes on before, is a veteran TV-series actress whose last screen credit in a feature film was "Woman Fan" in 1996's Space Jam, and she's the very definition of "ordinary." She tries hard and acts with dedication, but she's simply not possessive of much in the way of charm or comic timing; too often, she seems to be engaged in some kind of private performance (as is the case with many TV-series performers), saying her lines with professionalism yet not communicating anything genuine. Emotionally and comically, she's a zero. So with her and Daniels failing at getting a satisfying rapport going and generating any romantic chemistry and their incompatibility with SimonSpeak, there's little for the audience to fall back on.

Richard Benjamin directs, and does so with his usual sogginess. An actor who turned to directing in the early 1980s, he started out well with the comedy My Favorite Year (with Peter O'Toole) and the coming-of-age drama Racing With the Moon (with Sean Penn) but soon went impersonally slack with calamities like the Spielberg-produced The Money Pit and the title-is-funnier-than-the-film My Stepmother is an Alien. Here, the staging is limp and the timing even limper, and the cutting of the dialogue scenes lacks verve -- Benjamin gives the impression of there being something inherently rich in the story context, which there isn't, and as a result the actors, adding to their being miscast, look even more foolish. The director of the original, Herbert Ross (who, oddly enough, also helmed The Turning Point), was no Altman, but he knew to keep everything singing along with snap, crackle and pop; he neither waited an eternity for the performers to play their scenes out nor did he treat everything stagnantly -- he wisely tried covering the writing's inherent weaknesses with momentum and a bit of a lyrical touch that mostly worked yet sometimes didn't. Benjamin's work, on the other hand, is strictly of the off-the-rack, for-hire variety. And he's failed at even giving the two leads proper backup: Hallie Kate Eisenberg lacks the appealing gusto as Paula's wise-beyond-her-years, wisecracking daughter; Alan Cumming hasn't the juicy mania needed for Elliot's certifiable off-off-Broadway director who instructs Elliot to play Richard III with the flaming feyness of a La Cage Aux Folles extra; and even Benjamin, playing an actual film director who takes an interest in Elliot's work but who lacks the smug oiliness, is miscast. When Simon's done right with the appropriate in-sync touch, it can be marvelous fun (Seems Like Old Times; Max Dugan Returns) , but when it's handled badly with an out-of-touch interpreter, it can be fairly deadly (The Slugger's Wife; The Marrying Man). The Goodbye Girl isn't a shambles just because the actors can't get their lines off the ground, but because the foundation upon which they've been expected to take flight is so shaky it couldn't support a hang glider, much less a paper airplane, which Benjamin probably couldn't even get a rise out of.

There are things like VHS tapes and DVDs out there on the home-video market. The original "Girl" is available on both. Need a slide ruler to figure the rest out?

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 04/28/05 10:08:49
[printer] printer-friendly format  

User Comments

11/22/08 Shaun Wallner Interesting Movie! 4 stars
9/04/06 amanda on my top 10 favorite movies!!!! i LOVED it! 5 stars
7/25/05 Eric Rollins Hated the original this is just to boring to work up a good hate. 1 stars
5/06/05 Mind Junkie Needless waste of money 1 stars
11/03/04 Wayne Daniels Great movie at least as good as the original 4 stars
9/15/04 juLes very cute movie.. i liked it! 4 stars
6/10/04 I loved it, even better than the first 4 stars
2/15/04 Robert Lacked the energy of the original ... I'd pass. 2 stars
2/12/04 The Velcro Warlock A remake of this? Yuck! I'll never get over being traumatized by the original. 1 stars
2/04/04 Amber Arrison They need to stop remaking great movies and come up with some original ideas. 1 stars
2/01/04 Sophie Holmes I have loved "The Goodbye Girl", the original, (and to me, one-and-only) 1 stars
1/31/04 Joseph Simpkins Daniels is overlooked as a very good actor but I still favor the original with Dreyfuss 3 stars
1/27/04 Michael Warren The original was FAR better than this crap! 1 stars
1/26/04 Hubert Rodrigues Good movie to watch, it's simple as that. 4 stars
1/25/04 KTB I liked it a lot, I thought it was much better than the Original. Daniels & Heaton PERFECT! 5 stars
1/24/04 Sandy Liked original better. 4 stars
1/24/04 Mary Liked the original better.Actors just mouthing "words" in this remake. 3 stars
1/23/04 Christy I think that this movie was AMAZING! It's the way that romance should unfold and happen. 5 stars
1/22/04 Grander Diva Are you kidding? More seasoned? READ: Boring. Rent the original, you'll be glad you did. 2 stars
1/22/04 Timothy Great Remake! Great character and chemisty! 5 stars
1/21/04 Larry & Pat Denton Super tension packed relationship acting! 5 stars
1/21/04 Marie Loved it! Never saw original. Acting superb! 5 stars
1/21/04 D. Of course I loved it, look - - - - - - 5 stars
1/21/04 Karen Not Bad. Liked the original better but still a good movie 4 stars
1/20/04 Sara I loved the chemistry between Heaton and Daniels in this re make. better than the original 5 stars
1/20/04 Jessica I loved this movie. I never saw the original but this movie is by far terrific! 5 stars
1/20/04 Bernie It was good, but I liked Deyfuss much better. 4 stars
1/20/04 Laura The original stank. I really like older movies usually. This movie was ten times better! 5 stars
1/20/04 Rolanda I saw enough of the film to really hate ther re-make. I didn't even know these two actors. 1 stars
1/20/04 william very good and i'm a man..richard dryfus is a bore 5 stars
1/20/04 Laura pales in comparison to the original. I kept imagining the original actors. 3 stars
1/20/04 Carolyn love gotta see it! 5 stars
1/20/04 Chuck Better than the original! 5 stars
1/20/04 Yed I couldn't watch this movie, it was so week compared to the original. Acting was sub-par. 2 stars
1/19/04 Rob Yuck! Not even close to the original. 2 stars
1/19/04 jeff more believable than the original 4 stars
1/19/04 Heidi It was awesome. I love it. Its definitely will be my most favorite romantic movie. 5 stars
1/19/04 David N Why make this tv movie? Just see the original! 1 stars
1/19/04 Craig K. Enjoyable, great chemistry 4 stars
1/19/04 Bette I loved it. 5 stars
1/19/04 Tracy M Good Movie 4 stars
1/19/04 Lenore T. Why tamper with perfection? Horrible! 1 stars
1/19/04 Lynn G I would like to see it without commercials. 4 stars
1/19/04 Ashley Really good 4 stars
1/19/04 Jen T excellent.... funny.... heartwarming... and romantic 5 stars
1/19/04 Henry Jackson no chemistry between the two 2 stars
1/19/04 Samantha Loved the Re-make, Great chemistry between all characters 5 stars
1/19/04 joe sheck ver well done patricia heaton beautiful 5 stars
1/18/04 David Padilla Agree: Fine remake of a great movie. A+ 4 stars
1/18/04 mntngal100 A bit drier than the original 3 stars
1/18/04 Michael Bean Surprised & impressed !! 5 stars
1/18/04 mark wehman Thought the re-make was very well done. It did not take long before i forgot about Dreyfuss 4 stars
1/18/04 Barbara Artin Jeff Daniels doesn't enunciate clearly; too old (47) for the role of Elliot. 2 stars
1/18/04 Lynn Anderson Not as good as the original 3 stars
1/18/04 Celeste Schonter Not the Original but I enjoyed it for a snowy Saturday night.... 4 stars
1/18/04 Fem, age 43 Sorry, but Patricia Heaton looked the same whether she was fretful or happy. 3 stars
1/18/04 Carol W Sad compare to the great movie 2 stars
1/18/04 Fem, Age 43 The first version made me fall in love with Richard Dreyfuss. Jeff Daniels has NO charisma. 3 stars
1/18/04 Chris saw it Fri, saw it today. Better the second time 4 stars
1/18/04 Patty P Not as good as the Richard Dryfuss version 3 stars
1/18/04 Sandra AWEFUL! BORING! Patricia, Wake Up!! 1 stars
1/18/04 Jeri This version of The Goodbye Girl is just not working for me. 2 stars
1/18/04 denine absolutely the worst remake EVER! had no idea heaton couldnt act, no range :( 1 stars
1/18/04 Richard Aguafoot This is a terrible remake--with subpar performances by all actors, if you liked the orginal 2 stars
1/18/04 Ellen M. Swank I loved it! 4 stars
1/18/04 S. McVay This movie should have never been remade. It doesn't even come close to the original. 1 stars
1/18/04 Jon S. Better than the original - especially Heaton. 4 stars
1/18/04 Ed Sowell I really enjoyed this film 4 stars
1/18/04 Chris Like watching High school drama club try to impersonate Marsha Mason and Richard Dreyfuss. 1 stars
1/18/04 jojo very pleasantly surprised. 4 stars
1/18/04 Ned Pearson Hiring better actors would have made a difference 1 stars
1/18/04 dick dill excelllant/move over dreyfus 5 stars
1/17/04 Lisa MD Great girl movie, But guys aren't like that in real life so buy the movie!!! 5 stars
1/17/04 The movie was great! I was surprised i would like it as much as I did. 5 stars
1/17/04 Tokesan I think it is excellent 5 stars
1/17/04 Pat Was pleasantly surprised. Loved the original and loved this re-make! 5 stars
1/17/04 Paul Heaton didn't didn't seem comfortable in the part except maybe the ending. 3 stars
1/17/04 Joanne A I thought the remake was a miserable attempt. There isn't any way to top Richard Dreyfus. 3 stars
1/17/04 Stuart Worth a look 4 stars
1/17/04 AzoraJo Enjoyable, Heaton plays excellently and Eisenberg has enough charm to carry the flick. 4 stars
1/17/04 Leland I much prefered the original...not pleased 2 stars
1/17/04 Jean English I just didn't believe there was any chemistry between Daniels and Heaton. 2 stars
1/17/04 Robin doesn't even come close to being as wonderful as the original....very disappointing 3 stars
1/17/04 Bono Good movie. Dialogue and acting are top-notch. 5 stars
1/17/04 William not bad, fair, but definitely not as good as the original. Jeff D. if OK, Dreyfus was magic 4 stars
1/17/04 JRoyce Shouldn't have attempted it, the original was perfect. 2 stars
1/17/04 Dawn Im watching it and loving it right now 4 stars
1/17/04 Molly Shea suck 1 stars
1/15/04 Bill Miller Enjoyed it thoroughly 4 stars
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:

Discuss this movie in our forum

  DVD: 20-Jul-2004



Directed by
  Richard Benjamin

Written by
  Neil Simon

  Patricia Heaton
  Jeff Daniels
  Hallie Kate Eisenberg
  Allen Cumming

Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About Australia's Largest Movie Review Database.
Privacy Policy | HBS Inc. | |   

All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast