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Max Dugan Returns (1983)

PG  |   |  Comedy, Drama  |  25 March 1983 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.5/10 from 2,560 users  
Reviews: 39 user | 9 critic

An English teacher and struggling single mother has her life disrupted when the father who abandoned her as a child comes back into her life.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Nora McPhee
Max Dugan
Brian Costello
Dody Goodman ...
Mrs. Litke
Coach Roy
Panchito Gómez ...
Luis (as Panchito Gomez)
Charley Lau ...
Charley Lau
Mari Gorman ...
Brian Part ...
Kevin Costello
Older Woman
Tessa Richarde ...
Blonde at Shoe Store
Man at Shoe Store (as James Staahl)
Sondra Blake ...


Nora is a single mother who lives with her son Michael in a small house. They don't have much money but at least they have each other. Out of the blue comes Nora's father Max Dugan, who left her and her mother when Nora was nine years old. He brings a suitcase with dollar bills and showers her and Michael with gifts, trying to make up for lost time, knowing that he has a fatal heart ailment. The money comes from his shady career in Las Vegas and Nora is dating a police who is very interested in meeting him... Written by Mattias Thuresson

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Prices are double. Your love life's in trouble. The car won't start. Your boss has no heart. The door squeaks. The roof leaks. Your stereo just went mono. All you need is a little Max Dugan. See more »


Comedy | Drama


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

25 March 1983 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Como caído del cielo  »

Box Office


$17,600,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Actor Matthew Broderick's father, actor James Broderick died around the time that this film was being developed, made and released. Broderick's co-actor in this film, Jason Robards, knew his father and helped Matthew through his loss and grief. See more »


When Brian Costello is interrogating Nora McPhee at her school she is walking away from him in an empty gymnasium. She stops standing on the green floor of the free throw lane. The shot cuts and she is suddenly standing in a different position on the court not on the green floor area before she turns around to face him. See more »


Nora McPhee: How do I know you have six months to live?
Max Dugan: We could sit here and wait.
See more »


Referenced in Yes Man (2008) See more »

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User Reviews

Warm, funny and spirited--but leaves a curious question-mark behind...
17 April 2001 | by (las vegas, nv) – See all my reviews

As an actress, Marsha Mason always makes the best of an occasionally bad situation ("Audrey Rose", "Chapter Two"), yet in "Max Dugan Returns" she really gets to shine with excellent material. She has often played mothers, but Mason's relationship here with screen-son Matthew Broderick is extremely warm and real--it lives beyond the wisecracks--and as a daughter to Jason Robards she's funny and occasionally maternal. Plot about an L.A.-area teacher struggling to keep ahead of the bill collector has a jaunty, lively rhythm and a vitality that puts it above most family comedies. When the teacher gets a visit from her long-lost father, carrying a satchel of stolen money, the story thickens but doesn't bubble over. Director Herbert Ross does a good job at keeping the situation grounded. Donald Sutherland is perhaps an odd casting choice as the detective/love-interest investigating Pop (Sutherland has played so many heavies, he still has an evil glint in his eyes and an edge in his voice), however he makes the character right for him. Credit Neil Simon with one of his best scripts; he has no agenda here except to make us laugh, though that presents a problem when reality sinks in and daughter and dad have to deal with the moral (and legal) ramifications of the money. There are some quick lines at the finale designed to make the ending a happy one, but I'm not so sure Mason would be in the clear after the police become involved--nor would her romance with Sutherland be quite so rosy once he has to choose the law over his feelings for her. And why does Mason say "he's going to drive" at the finale when the car turns into an animated plane? Would Pop ditch the car at the airport? And what about that lunch date at Pizza Hut? When Mason and Broderick show up in a taxi, wouldn't detective Sutherland be a little bit suspicious? *** from ****

6 of 7 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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