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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

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Goodbye Girl, The (2004)
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by Ryan Arthur

"Don't give me Bette Midler, but don't be afraid to be bold."
4 stars

I was initially skeptical of the idea of remaking The Goodbye Girl for TV. It's a simple movie, and that's where its charm lies. I didn't think it really needed to be redone, and I was less than enthusiastic about the cast that was chosen. But I was pleasantly surprised by the finished result.

First things first: not a lot has changed from the original The Goodbye Girl. The plot's the same, and probably 90% of the dialogue and situations are identical. Most of the changes are cosmetic and are just small updates to make the story seem like it's actually set in 2004 (a cell phone! In a Neil Simon script! Shocking!). The story: Paula and Lucy (Patricia Heaton and Hallie Kate Eisenberg) are mother and daughter living with Paula's boyfriend Tony, who's an actor. One day, the girls come home to find Tony gone to Europe, and Tony has in turn sublet the apartment (unbeknownst to Paula) to someone else: Elliot Garfield (Jeff Daniels), another actor that Paula initially hates before romance finally blossoms.

My review of the original is here:

It's not a shot-for-shot remake, but director Richard Benjamin hasn't messed with a whole lot, which is fine. The sets are small and modestly decorated, keeping with Simon's original screenplay. There's really not much that should be done, anyway. Take away the simplicity and the film loses its sweetness. The real strength lies in both the script and the performances of the two leads

Patricia Heaton as Paula. I'll be honest: I loathe Raymond. I think it's an absolutely abominable sitcom, and the shrewish character of Debra doesn't do any actress - especially one like Patricia Heaton - justice, Heaton's two Emmys not withstanding. She gets a chance to flex a bit as Paula, and her take on the character is a little more world-weary, and more cynical and less weepy than Marsha Mason's, but it works. It's a stronger take on the character. She's cute here, too, and that helps. There's palpable chemistry with Daniels (moreso when they're quarrelling, but certainly overall). Paula's a stronger character this time around - not in terms of how Simon has her written, but in how she's played. Mason was 35-playing-33 when she stepped into the role of Paula (which Simon wrote for her, his then-wife); Heaton is 45-playing-36, and plays Paula as just a little bit smarter, though the vulnerability is still there. It's a much better performance (and character) than Debra Barone, and Heaton gets to sink her teeth into a much better written role.

Jeff Daniels as Elliot. I've never understood why Jeff Daniels doesn't get more work. Here's a guy that can do drama (Gettysburg), action (Speed) and broad physical comedy (Dumb & Dumber), so Daniels was an inspired choice to play Elliot. He reportedly only watched Richard Dreyfuss' performance as Elliot once (Dreyfuss won an Oscar in the role) so that he could make the character his own, and he benefits from that. Daniels' Elliot is still the same struggling actor, but he's also less excitable than Dreyfuss was, as he's older and a little more seasoned. Daniels also has excellent chemistry with both Hallie Kate Eisenberg (and that's important, because Lucy falls for Elliot before Paula) and with Heaton. The romantic elements between Heaton and Daniels are completely believable, and Daniels really shines (much like Dreyfuss did) in Elliot's scenes with Lucy and when Elliot plays the title role in Richard III as a gay man at the insistence of his "visionary" director (cameo appearance from X2's Alan Cumming in Woody Allen glasses). Good comedy. When Elliot chases Paula down in the street outside the apartment following their initial hookup, he really cuts loose ("if you weren't behaving like such a horse's rectum you would know that we could be inside touching and fondling all day long until I've got to go to rehearsal") and that's when I thought Daniels made the part. Dreyfuss may have won an Oscar, but I can see Jeff Daniels earning an Emmy nom. It was that good of a performance.

Of course, Simon's dialogue is still funny, and ultimately what makes this movie worthwhile for me. Heaton and Daniels have the delivery nailed, and everything moves along at a good clip. The comebacks are snappy, the dialogue crisp. It initially annoyed me a little (in both versions of the film) that Paula treats Lucy not as a daughter but more as a best friend, although the interplay between Heaton and Eisenberg won me over. The exchanges between the two of them are cute, and Eisenberg captures the wise-beyond-her-years feel ("you were never were born 26," Paula tells her daughter) that Quinn Cummings had embodied so well in the original.

About the only complaint I have is the Hootie & The Blowfish cover of David Gates' "Goodbye Girl" song. Um, Darius, it's not 1996 anymore. "Cracked Rear View" is currently available in every pawnshop in America. You and the boys might want to try a little harder to change your sound up a bit. Needless to say, the original, soft-rock though it may be, would've been just fine.

Does the remake of The Goodbye Girl surpass the original? It looks better, and at the risk of offending fans of the original, I prefer the performances of Heaton and Daniels to Mason and Dreyfuss, but as always, your mileage may vary. Strong performances from the leads and a tight script make it a solid viewing from my end, and I think it's at least as good as the original, which is hard to do these days.

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originally posted: 01/12/04 06:00:10
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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
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  DVD: 20-Jul-2004



Directed by
  Richard Benjamin

Written by
  Neil Simon

  Patricia Heaton
  Jeff Daniels
  Hallie Kate Eisenberg
  Allen Cumming

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