The Lonely Guy

Synopsis: Meet Larry Hubbard…Lonely Guy

The one and only Steve Martin stars along with Charles Grodin and Tony Award winner Judith Ivey in a funny and poignant romance inspired by Bruce Jay Friedman’s tongue-in-cheek survival manual. The Lonely Guy follows the progress of Larry (Steve Martin) and his buddy Warren (Charles Grodin) as they attempt to eke out a successful like in the Big Apple. They’re losers, until one day, Larry writes a book that turns loneliness into the ultimate love potion, and life is never the same!
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The Lonely Guy 7.5

On the more corny side of Steve Martin’s early years comes this comedic tale about a newly-single man and his adventures as a “lonely guy” in the Big Apple. It’s a relatively under-stated journey, however: from an unexpected break-up to his new-found status as bestselling author, viewers become privy to the inner workings of a man who suddenly hits an unusual streak of bad luck with the opposite sex.

It might sound like a dismal affair to some, but the writers have managed to turn the whole situation on its head: not only do we recognize moments that we’ve all lived through, but they play on single-life clichés and amp up the silliness along the way. Granted, it’s hardly realistic, but it makes it an easy pill to swallow by taking it to such a level that you can’t really take the seriousness of his plight seriously.

‘The Lonely Guy’ is based on ‘The Lonely Guy’s Book of Life’, by Bruce Jay Friedman, and it was written for the screen by Neil Simon. Thus we get something akin to the spirit of ‘The Out-of-Towners’ (which, unsurprisingly, Martin remade years later) but with a more wacky quality to it. No doubt due to Simon’s touch, there’s a sad, self-involved quality to the main character and it’s balanced by a good nature that makes it so easy to empathize and root for him; Martin’s character is a bit of a loser, sure, but he’s a loveable one – even as he fails in his quest for Love.

It’s an imperfect film on many levels: the acting is decent but not great, the tone is uneven at times and the humour can get pretty broad. But it has a heart and it manages to make us care about characters that could otherwise seem pathetic. I honestly find the film very funny, even if it often misses its mark on a regular basis. It’s become a bit of a comfort food, late at night.

While I can’t say that this film is a masterpiece, I do find it noteworthy. Not only does it tackle early ’80s single life (i.e. pre-internet) in a fashion that I have yet to see echoed anywhere else, but it’s also one of those films that has been lost in the shuffle over time. It’s probably a lonely film, with but a few friends, and I think that it deserves a lot more respect than it seems to be getting thus far.

So, spend a quick 90 mins with ‘The Lonely Guy’. See what you’ve been missing, and let it grow on you. You could do worse.

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