The Goodbye Girl

| December 8, 2003

Emmy award winner Patricia Heaton (Everybody Loves Raymond) plays Paula McFadden, a woman who has recently been dumped by her live-in boyfriend who just so happens to be the second actor in a row that she has fallen for. The boyfriend skips town one day and sublets the apartment without informing Paula. Later that night, a stranger named Elliot Garfield arrives at her door, brilliantly played by Jeff Daniels (Dumb and Dumber, Speed). Elliot is also an actor and a friend of Paula’s ex-boyfriend who claims that the apartment was sublet to him just the previous day. After much bickering and refusing to leave, Paula strikes an agreement with Elliot: if he pays the rent until she can find a job, she will abide by his rules of the household. Let the brawl begin.
The Goodbye Girl is a charmer of a film with sharp dialogue from none other than the master himself, playwright and screenwriter Neil Simon. The story may sound all too familiar… that’s because this film is a remake of the original 1970’s version starring Richard Dreyfuss, who just so happened to win an Academy Award for his portrayal of Elliot. Jeff Daniels had some big shoes to fill when he took this role but fills them to the toe with such energy and grace that by the time the end credits roll you can’t help but wonder why the American public doesn’t see more of this man. Patricia Heaton shines as the heartbroken Paula, a person that has experienced more than her share of troubles in the relationship department. Not only does Paula have troubles in her love life, she also has her daughter, Lucy, to worry about, portrayed by Kate Eisenberg (the cute girl in those cute Pepsi commercials). Eisenberg sinks her teeth into the role of Lucy, who sometimes must be the adult to Paula instead of vice versa. Paula and Lucy do not share a typical mother-daughter relationship, but rather a friendship, giving each other sincere advice whenever opportunity knocks. When Elliot arrives, he undoubtedly turns the their world upside down with his unorthodox method of living, which includes playing guitar in the nude and meditating. At first Elliot and Paula clash on every level imaginable. But as we all know… extreme opposites do attract. The film reaches its comedic peak with the introduction of Alan Cumming (X2) as a play director who forces Elliot to portray a homosexual version of Richard III. Fun stuff!
This film is a job well-done not only for the actors, but for Mr. Neil Simon himself, who took the liberty of writing an updated version of his own screenplay. No matter how your love life is going right now, The Goodbye Girl is sure to tickle your funny bone and leave you with a big-hearted smile.

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