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IN SHORT: Vile. [Rated [R]]
For the first time in almost three years, Cranky heard hissing at the end of a flick, and this was from people who didn't pay a cent to get into the sneak.
Cranky will leave it to the Conservative crits like Michael Medved to rail about the opening scene of Goodbye Lover, in which adulterous sex occurs in a Church organ loft while the choir innocently applauds the performance -- the music, not the sex. What surprised me was how angry I got watching minor characters, a reverend, a Mormon police detective, an executive Buddhist, were all played as fools. Comic relief, all of 'em. Now, Cranky isn't a religious man, and I haven't been observant of anything in years, but this vile, meanspirited humor pervades Goodbye Lover, which is such a crapulous piece of work that you can't even deem it "black comedy" and dismiss it as a bad one. It may be symptomatic of the total misdirection of this thing that the only sympathetic character is blown away in the first third of the flick. But it's necessary to set up the remainder, in which greed, cynicism and backstabbing are the rules of the game. What's at stake? Millions of dollars of insurance money, all lusted after by narcissistic and pretentious scum who yearn to pay cash on Rodeo Drive.
Now, the studio has asked that I not reveal the ending to this movie, which I won't. What happens at the end isn't shocking or surprising. By the time you get there, your dislike of all the principals will be so intense that you won't get any satisfaction; no, you just won't give a damn. But if you must know, it goes like this:
Sweet young thing Peggy Blaine (Mary-Louise Parker) lusts after single middle aged high powered PR executive Ben (Don Johnson) who is having an affair with the sexually creative Sandra (Patricia Arquette) a top dollar real estate agent married to Ben's alcoholic brother Jake (Dermot Mulroney). If Jake ever discovered the affair, Sandra tells Ben, he'd kill himself. Ben won't be party to what would be murder, dumps Sandra for Peggy and himself becomes target of Sandra's jealous rage.
Cranky already had a bad taste in his mouth by the time the first murder occurs - and I'm not even going to delve deeply into the serial killer working his way through Los Angeles at the time of the story or the hitman for hire subplot or the use of Tony Robbins tapes and the soundtrack of The Sound of Music as inspiration for murder - it's late and I'm tired and this awful thing should have remained on the shelf where it sat, so I'm told by another critic, for a year.
There's one last character to introduce and dismiss, a cynical and sarcastic police detective (think of a word that begins with "b" and capitalize it) played by Ellen DeGeneres. Ellen, what the hell were you thinking when you took this role?
The television commercial is clever. The film is not. Keep the hell away.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Goodbye Lover, he would have paid...
Sitting through movies like Goodbye Lover is what guarantees my place in Heaven, 'cuz none of the tortures of Hell could be as painful as this.
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