Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Movie Log: The Lonely Guy

I've been inadvertently working backwards through Steve Martin's romantic comedies (with L.A. Story back in the winter, then Roxanne a few weeks ago), so I decided to try this one, from 1984. I saw it Friday night, I think.

You've probably never heard of it, because it's very early-80s and it's very forgettable. It's loosely based on a humor book by Bruce Jay Friedman, and it's never as funny as it should be. Martin is a youngish greeting-card writer (carefully established early on, then forgotten for most of the movie, and never actually important) who gets kicked out by his philandering girlfriend and thus becomes a "lonely guy," one who cannot find any love or companionship. He does find Charles Grodin, looking much older in this movie than I've ever seen him in the twenty years since, as a total nebbish who befriends Martin and teaches him the ways of the lonely guy. (You're smiling now, because you're thinking of at least three or four funny ways that could go -- but, unfortunately, the movie didn't think of any of them.)

Martin is too poised and confident in himself to really pull off the "lonely guy" thing -- he never seems sad or alone, just a bit confused as to where his life should go. All in all, it's a minor movie that's most interesting as a look at Manhattan in that era.

Oh, and I did have one thought while watching this movie, which I'll try to put into words without becoming utterly sexist. The love interest for Martin's character is the noted stage actress Judith Ivey. It may be partially a 1980s thing, with her unattractive clothes and her big frizzy hair, but when she turned up, I thought "she's not attractive enough to be our female lead." Oh, she's pretty enough for a normal human being -- she just didn't look like the female lead in a romantic comedy. And I wonder if that was semi-deliberate (a holdover from the 1970s era of actors and actresses who looked more like real people), or a failed attempt at glamorizing her, or just that she was the decent actress they could afford.

See -- it still sounds sexist. Damn.

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