The Lonely Guy (1984)
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I usually watch just ten minutes of a movie, find it boring, then discard it. Or, I fast forward through great big sections of a film and get satisfaction from the leftover bits and pieces. With this one I never once reached for the fast forward button. It is charming, touching, lovely, hilarious and satisfying. One cares deeply for the characters played by Martin and Grodin and wants happiness to come their way.
The sadness never overwhelms because the lighthearted scenes make for a perfect balance.
You could go through a whole row at Blockbuster and not find a gem like this one. If you have even just a touch of a tender heart, by all means rent this one.
Great performances from Martin and Grodin especially (in what in my opinion his is best ever role) as he guides Martin's character through what it is to be a lonely guy, from cocktail parties with cardboard cut-outs of film stars, to standing in as an opening act when their friends are going to be late for dates.
This he learns so well he turns it into a best selling book and eventually finds true love. A wonderful movie that will comfort anyone who is feeling a bit down as it shows that things could be so much worse.
I remember seeing this see not even in high school yet. It was so funny overall that , as a kid, I didn't even care if I didn't get the adult humor. Larry Hubbard just makes me laugh!
The first thing working for this is location-location-LOCATION! It's so fun to see NYC and there are even scenes of Steve Martin walking nonchalant in the streets (see early scene where Steve crosses the street, a guy passes him and then quickly turns his head to look back at Steve that's so New York!). Larry's happy-go lucky attitude makes him affable and it's hilarious to see him stuck in one lonely rut to another. THEN, definite plus for this movie is Charles Grodin's Warren who is the anti-Larry. Grodin's pessimistic responses, rules for lonely guys, and ultra-lonely attitude just crack me up in any scene he is in. "Isn't your guy going to say good-bye to my guy?" That's just too funny!!!
There are lots of classic moments like on the Manhattan bridge, any of Larry & Warren hanging out, or any lonely lesson learned. The chemistry between Martin and several people in the film is great. Watch this one and remember, you have to reserve "Gene Hackman" a week in advance.
There is apparently a Charlie Kaufmanesque approach to this film's story and background. It's based on a non-fiction book The Lonely Guy's Book of Life by a New York City-based writer named Bruce Jay Friedman, but departs into a purely, obviously fictional tale of a greeting card writer who goes through a period of terrible luck with women. Then, at the pit of his despair, Larry writes a book titled A Guide for the Lonely Guy, which is rampantly successful and catapults him into an entirely different experience of life. Evidently The Lonely Guy is a satire on the social superficialities surrounding the success of its source material rather than an adaptation, which I find quite creative.
Steve Martin, who takes so well to the pathos of the role that he even turns up as Charlie Chaplin's Little Tramp in one scene, seems most comfortable here in his scenes with Charles Grodin as the dryly hilarious sad sack. He does least well in sequences in which Hiller works against the material's essential gloom. Whenever the film tries to be a high-spirited, zesty head rush, it slips slightly. When it succumbs to the indispensable melancholy of Larry and his situation, it begins to fashion a concealed blade of sullen comical sense. Some of the sharpest laugh moments could even be when Martin keeps being rejected by a woman who clearly loves him, because of some twisted logic of hers that avoids any kind of affection because she could get hurt.
Here's a refreshingly broad screwball comedy, rooted in a universal kind of human agony, constructed out of disguised satire and freely seasoned with countless Zucker-style sight gags. And it's carried with typical briskness by Arthur Hiller, a solid and undistinguished director, most of whose success has been with light comedy such as this. As can be seen in the Wilder-Pryor teamings or the original In-Laws, he has a basic flair for it. And you can't go wrong with a theme song by America.
I highly recommend this film for anyone who is lonely. While being lonely is not amusing, Martin lets you in on the details of how much worse it could be, and that there are better things for you in the future if you persist. This attempt lends hope, rather than smarm. No one who is lonely needs useless platitudes. They merely need the strength to carry on until their hope can be realized.
Give this one a viewing. It is definitely worth the small amount of time to allow yourself to become uplifted.
It rates an 8.6/10 from...
the Fiend :.
As a New Yorker, I liked seeing the city in this movie. It's a somewhat dirtier but more variegated New York than in movies like "Ghost" or "When Harry Met Sally," which spent too much time in tony neighborhoods like Tribeca, the Village and Midtown.
Unfortunately, the definitive home video version does not exist and probably never will. The laserdisc is marred by a bad transfer and excessive, very objectionable video and audio noise. This may be the dreaded laser rot in action or just bad production. The DVD is beautiful, with a crisp transfer and no noticeable noise. But its 1.85:1 widescreen presentation is in the form of matting/masking the 1.33:1 Academy Frame, so instead of showing more picture, it actually shows less than the cassette and the laserdisc. The matting makes the "widescreen" frame feel distractingly cramped, with characters' heads continually butting up against the top. One joke in particular suffers badly: When Larry is laying on a bed talking to a woman, he's bare-chested in his fantasy to imply they're in bed together. But the widescreen version shows only his head, so the joke is weakened. Too bad a full-frame DVD will probably never be made as this is one of the few times when a full-frame presentation would have been preferable.
And in the second half, there is a scene in bed involving the 'o' word, that is very painfully unfunny and completely inane.
But what do I know.
Two scenes that really stick out in my mind:
1. When the girl says to Steve: "Nice guys don't stay lonely for long" -- so sweet!
2. When Steve realizes he missed out on a golden opportunity to "get lucky" with a pretty woman. That was wickedly funny!
Steve Martin plays his typical 80s SNL self. Loud, obnoxious and DUMB. Like real dumb. Like his girlfriend is in bed with her Latin lover and just acts like there is nothing wrong type DUMB. Like so bad he gets into bed with her and doesn't seem to care because he has a girlfriend. Like good grief Larry (the characters name) have some self respect. He doesn't. He is DUMB.
The movie goes on for sometime and he meets a woman at a coffee shop half way through the movie. She gives him his number after she calls him a lonely guy and ha HA she wrote the number on a napkin and he wipes his face because Larry is a DUMB character. So surprise he can't call her. Sees her at a restaurant, loses the number she leaves with the waiter. Then sees her again on a subway car across the station, steals a gangsters spray paint can and writes backwards where to meet on the opposing trains window. He meets here and finds out shes been married 6 times!!! Maybe fate was losing the numbers because he needs to avoid here perhaps.
He doesn't care because Larry has no self respect and just wants a girlfriend, any girlfriend. They date. He falls in love. She dumps him because he is perfect for her. Larry goes on a cruise. Surprise! She's on the same cruise. New York must be a small place in the 80s? He's still in love. They go to a costume party and he talks with her, begs her to go out with him again. A friend comes over as they're talking. The friend gets hypnotized by this women. Husband number 7 he becomes. Like a DUMB guy Larry tries to break up the wedding rather than count his lucky stars he's not marrying her. He is depressed because he can't marry this indecisive manipulative woman and goes to a bridge to jump off. As he is standing there. This psychopathic women just happens to be jumping off and he happens to catch her. Her reason is she couldn't live if she's not with Larry. Yeah right sure shes a crazy manipulator after all. They live happily ever after. Movie ends. And this happily ever after probably lasts a day until this horrible woman dumps this dumb guy and gets divorce no.8!
The premise is an understandable one. We all know a severely lonely guy who'll take anyone, even a horrible person but this movie didn't do well enough to tell it. It tried to be a funny comedy and it just fell flat on its face. It was horrible and may just be Steve Martin's worse movie he's ever done (don't know, haven't seen them all).
However, if you like Charles Grodin, then this is a must-see film just for his scenes. He proves yet again that the best comedy is found in pain and truthfulness, not zaniness and pratfalls. (His scenes are the only ones I clearly remember, other than one in which Martin seems to watch his own death on t.v.; which I won't spoil for you, if you ever happen to rent it.)
Catch it on cable the next rainy night you can't seem to get a date.
Five stars. (Could have been more with a rewrite).
I like Steve Martin. And I like most of his films. But every once in a while I think he appeared in awful films. This is one of them. It's just plain boring.
Steve Martin plays a guy here who deserves to be "The Lonely Guy". I guess in that sense it's a brilliant performance...because he is boring. His boring-ness is exceeded only by the performance of Charles Grodin. Grodin has good parts in a number of movies, but here he is way over top in terms of being boring. Interesting to see Steve Lawrence in a film. It's not a good sign when cameo performances (in this case Merv Griffin, Dr. Joyce Brothers, and Loni Anderson) are more interesting than the film itself. In fact, about the only moment that actually made me smile was when Grodin's character actually falls in love with Dr. Joyce Brothers.
This is not the worst film I ever watched, but it may be the worst film I ever finished watching. There's a whole world of entertainment choices out there. I wouldn't recommend this as a choice you should take.
Sadly, "The Lonely Guy" never delivers what it promises. I was expecting it to be a comedy with some drama scenes, but simply there's no drama scene in the whole film. It tried to be comedy repeatedly, but only some few scenes were really funny and well thought. The restaurant scene for instance was very clever, I was able to laugh since I've been through a similar situation in past days. However, the sex scene for example, was very silly. Actually, many scenes felt lame and amateurish, and that's not what I expected for this kind of comedy. All in all, the concept of this film is brilliant but I don't think it was better executed. Maybe with a better writer it would've been better.
The script doesn't play to Martin's strengths (wacky physical humor or surrealistic verbal humor), so he's playing a role that any bland actor - picture someone like Tony Roberts - could have done almost as well. Charles Grodin is merely an annoyance as the one-dimensional geeky lonely guy, and the main female characters are also static and uninteresting.
Even Jerry Goldsmith, who has beefed up many a marginal movie with a good score, goes vanilla here and gives us a bunch of goopy 80s cues, sounding like Dave Grusin on Prozac. The vocal numbers are horrendous, especially the screeching opening credit song by America, featuring a bad 80s drum machine/synth track. If you want a better early Steve Martin film, pick either the one BEFORE this ("Man with two Brains") or the one AFTER ("All of Me"), both of which are much better suited to his personality.
Steve Martin tries his darnedest to give us a chuckle, and his infectious persona almost saves something from this flick. Alas he, and the likable Charles Grodin, can rescue nought from a pic whose one reasonable joke dies of loneliness.
Also stars Judith Ivey and Dr. Joyce Brothers.
Saturday, May 10, 1997 - Video
The best lines in the movie are the greeting card lines that Martin comes up with just before getting fired from the greeting card company he is working for. In fact, I've used the following on an ex-girlfriend to help me feel just a bit better after a breakup :) "Will you be my valentine? Think about it a bit. If you will, that's okay. If not, who gives a sh**." Another gem is when Martin has the discussion about poop with a cop trying to give him a ticket for his dog fouling a pathway. Classic.
This is not "The Jerk", "Planes, Trains & Automobiles" or even "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" by any stretch of the imagination but it is a good way for a Steve Martin fan to pass the time on a rainy day.
You could point out that it's basically a one-joke movie, but they do a lot with the singular premise of coping with life as a lonely guy. Martin's character Larry gets advice from Warren about how to live alone, while simultaneously pursuing Iris, the girl of his dreams. For one reason or another, things just never quite work out with Iris, despite how successful Larry later gets by writing a guide book for lonely guys.
A lot of the humor is pretty dry, which might by why this movie is a rare Steve Martin film from the '80s that wasn't hugely popular. I tried to find the movie on DVD years ago and it was only available as part of a boxed set of Steve Martin movies, kind of as a throw-in for people who wanted The Jerk on DVD. There are a lot of running jokes too (like the bits with the ferns and the stick chasing dog), so the movie rewards those who have a decent attention span.
Definitely worth watching if you like offbeat comedies.
It's absolutely excellent as a comedy in that it contains all the necessary criteria a said top notch comedy needs to have.
The concept was original and superbly well carried out from the opening moments to the very last scene. The funny factor that is generated at the very start never lets down, it's a continuous high-bar level maintained to the conclusion. The humor is dark, terribly dark at times but never complacently edgy or cynical, it's healthy but really really nasty and dark. There's an element of (the later show) Seinfeld in the dialog in how they'll pick a totally random topic and stretch it out, as if it mattered at all and deserved so much airtime in an official release. The film is so at ease at what it does, it's got this totally natural rhythm, lots of twists and turns and superb command over changes in gear, and it never feels too random or over-the-top, it's always centered, grounded, self-identified, strong humor and narrative development.
The Charles Grodin character is especially hilarious.
The disruptive factor (Iris' problems with men) is genuine and terribly realistic, and yet given so much volume and sits so well in the plot and doesn't feel like an old familiar relationship problem chorus dragged on forever.
Excellent comedy. It must be said. 8.5 or 9/10.