The Lonely Guy Reviews
Excellent performances from the leads with Charles Grodin's deadpan delivery balancing brilliantly with Martin's more eccentric way .
This is a very entertaining film which I would recommend to anyone...particularly if you're feeling like your life sucks. Also, I defy anyone to watch this and ever see a fern as just a plant again.
For a comedy about abject loneliness, combined with a strong element of suicide, this is quite a bold move, and it works. Martin is great, the laughs are decent, and even if it's uneven from the very beginning it still worked out miles better than it could have given the quite dark premise as it never really allows itself to get too bleak. The romantic main plot is as loopy as everything else in this almost cartoonish New York city setting, but a good heart keeps everything running and together.
These days, it's almost easier to get a job if you've just spent time in prison than if you've been unemployed for any length of time. Even though, in this economy, it's obviously not always your fault. It's seldom your fault, in fact; there are too many people and not enough jobs, and some really good employees have gotten fired for reasons beyond their control. Everyone knows that, and yet here we all are. I think relationships can be like that, too. There's something a little worrying about someone who's been single for any length of time, even if it was the healthiest thing possible for them to have gotten out of the relationship and taken time to recover from it. You're just supposed to jump back on that horse, and that's a silly belief. It is also true that there are some people who are just bad at relationships, some people who are almost destined to be alone. This movie is about the place where they meet.
Larry Hubbard (Steve Martin) didn't start out as a Lonely Guy. In fact, he had a relationship with a beautiful ballerina named Danielle (Robyn Douglass) and a great job at a greeting card company. He came up with a new line of greeting cards, and everything was going great--until he came home to find Danielle in bed with fellow dancer Raul (Richard Delmonte). She kicked Larry out--and, while he was at it, could he take out the garbage? And from there, he sank into the abyss of the Lonely Guy. His work suffered to the point that he was fired. He kept seeing the woman, Iris (Judith Ivey), who was perfect for him, but things kept going wrong. About the only thing going right in his life was his new friendship with Warren Evans (Charles Grodin), his guide to the life of the Lonely Guy. Larry ended up writing a book about it, which you'd think would improve his life, especially given that it was a runaway bestseller. But there are some parts of being a Lonely Guy that last.
Actually, Steve Martin has played a fair number of Lonely Guys in his career, if you think about it. Yeah, they're usually Lonely Guys who end the picture by Finding True Love, but think about it. Charlie Bales? If you're playing a take on Cyrano de Bergerac, you're playing a Lonely Guy. Dr. Michael Hfuhruhurr? The plot of [i]The Man With Two Brains[/i] is the story of one man who was easy to take advantage of because he was a Lonely Guy. Harris K. Telemacher? That's only the story of how easy it is to be a Lonely Guy in LA, even if you're sleeping with Marilu Henner and Sarah Jessica Parker. I don't know what this says about him; I'm not sure the real Steve Martin is a lonely guy, but then again, I read his autobiography. I think he's spent considerable time in the Lonely Guy trenches. He understands what it's like to be there, and he understands the lengths people will go to in order to cover it up, even if he himself has never had a party with a bunch of cardboard cutouts.
And, yes, this movie and [i]LA Story[/i] are set in the biggest cities in the US, but they're still about loneliness. Just being in a city doesn't make you less lonely. It may seem easier to meet people, and certainly it's easier to find people with common interests, but there are still millions of people that you don't know and are never going to. There are millions of people all around you with their own lives and their own interests that you simply aren't a part of. I mean, think about it. If you live in an apartment, how many of your neighbours do you know? The apartment next door to ours is vacant, and even though I'd talk with our former neighbour occasionally, I still didn't know he was leaving. If you're shy, being surrounded by people is actually harder than meeting people one-on-one. It's a curious contradiction, but I think it's one that everyone who's ever lived in a big city can understand, even if a lot of people can't.
Overall, I was not hugely impressed by this movie. A lot of the gags were predictable, though there were several places where I did legitimately laugh out loud. I kind of resented the implication that loneliness is an exclusively male phenomenon, or harder for men, or something. After all, isn't Iris just a Lonely Girl? (Who desperately needed therapy, but that's a rant I don't feel the need for at this moment.) I've also got a few things going on in my life so that I don't find the running gag about people throwing themselves off bridges to be all that funny. I will say, though, that it's nice that it's friendship which saves Warren's life. Even though he doesn't believe he's ever going to hook up with the Love of His Life, and he believes that Larry will, life can still be good enough. He'll still be okay. And hey, maybe he can spend a few nice evenings with a woman, even if she isn't a perfect catch and even if they aren't together forever. I'm not saying I wanted to watch a whole movie of Warren, but he was a nice touch.