Movie review: ‘Bye Bye Love’

bblSome movies are good; some bad. That’s obvious. However, I’ll take a bad movie any day over an embarrassing one. One of the biggest embarrassments in the past generation is “Bye Bye Love.” It is filled with ignorant stereotypes, bad acting and, possibly the worst sin of all, a complete waste of talent. “Bye Bye Love” is the story of three divorced men and their travails – all of which are spoiled by stereotype and, for one film family, the fact that the smarmy, talentless Paul Reiser plays the father. I just wrote about what a total loser the remake of “Rollerball” is (click here to read that one), but now I’m writing about a movie that is stomach-churning for somewhat similar reasons with exactly the same result: an unwatchable film that will leave you nauseated.

‘Bye Bye Love’
(1995; 106 minutes; rated R; directed by Sam Weisman and starring Matthew Modine, Randy Quaid and Janeane Garafalo)

SOME REALLY SOLID TALENT IS WASTED IN THIS LOSER

I’ll start out by saying I enjoyed three components of the grand stinkbomb that is “Bye Bye Love:” first, Janeane Garafalo; second, the energy of Randy Quaid; and third, the work of the actors who played the “kids.” All are good, with the exception that Quaid had to work with this rotten screenplay – but the rest is pure garbage wallowing in a swill of stereotypes, bad dialogue and overacting.

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Bye Bye Love” is the story of three divorced men dealing with their kids, their former wives, some with current loves and their day-to-day living (that is, how Hollywood denizens perceive such men). Of course, two of the three are white collar and therefore are always nattily dressed and have no economic challenges while the third is a driving instructor and pretty much blue collar with the attending attitude.

The children are all cute, funny and the actors do a good job with their roles, especially Eliza Dushku. The former wives, like their counterparts, must deal with being stereotypes brought on by the premise of the film and the actors appear to find it hurdle they cannot overcome.

In the end you realize you saw a man with a younger woman (stereotype); a former wife with an anti-husband attitude and who appears to be frivolous with the child support money but is not (stereotype); the former wife attracted to the friend of her ex (stereotype); and the prissy former husband who can’t deal with what’s going on with his daughter and his prissy former wife and her prissy new husband (the ex is relegated to being called the birth father, as one introduction goes). All in all, it is just one stereotype after another.

Of course, everything goes off course (first we’ll have the stereotypical fathers on a day outing with the kids starting at McDonald’s), really goes bad with one of the kids and then everything winds up nice and neat in the end.

Yawn.

The only decent part of the story is the subplot of the high school kid who is befriended by an older man who works in McDonald’s older worker program (“adopt a geezer” as the teenager describes it) along with the talented effort by the young man and the older actor.

I’ll run down the film through some of the actors in the primary cast and their work:

  • Matthew Modine is “Dave Goldman” and he has the beautiful young girlfriend (second wife? I don’t know; I didn’t pay attention) that’s a big challenge for his kids to deal with. Modine looks like a fisherman in the desert: he just doesn’t know what to do next. A middling to poor performance. He was much better in “And the Band Played On” (click here for my review) and was also excellent in “Vision Quest” and “Full Metal Jacket” (click here for my review).
  • Quaid at least tries here as “Vic Damico” and does a good job summoning outrage at his former wife’s spending and her lazy boyfriend and other emotions (especially when he crashes a radio talk show and berates the host), but he’s hampered by stereotypes of busting up the deck of his former house so his ex and her boyfriend can’t enjoy it. He was much better in a smaller role in “The Long Riders” (click here for my review) and, of course, is “Cousin Eddie” in the “National Lampoon Vacation” franchise (click here for my review of the “Christmas” film).
  • The completely worst actor here is Reiser, who oozes his way through the role of “Donny Carson.” He mopes around and pretty much whines his way through the film. Reiser’s main persona on screen is as if his character has taken an overdose of Valium and doesn’t have any range to rise above his deficiencies. Simply put, he isn’t a good actor and doesn’t display any talent here (and, yes, I’ll admit he didn’t have a lot to work with). He was also in “Aliens” (click here for my review) as well as … ah, who cares – I don’t.
  • Dushku is very good here as the conflicted daughter of Reiser. She does a good job conveying both the insecurities of a teenaged girl (she’s looking to be noticed by the teen boy at McDonald’s) as well as all the stresses that go along with the breakup of her parents’ marriage. She’s one of the few actors to have decent material to work with. Dushku has also been in “Bring it On” and was the daughter in Schwarzenegger-Jamie Lee Curtis vehicle “True Lies” (click here for my review). She was 14 when the film was released and in only her third film (“True Lies” was her second the year before).
  • Janeane Garofalo plays “Lucille” and is the difficult, contrary date for Quaid in the film. Garofalo looks to be having fun with the role and breezes through it so well that you look forward to her next scene (actually, you’re practically begging for her to come back when Reiser appears). Garofalo did just as good work in a much smaller role in “Dogma” (click here for my review) and has also been in “Bad Parents” and I liked her best as a cop in the simply terrific “Big Trouble” with Tim Allen and Rene Russo (click here for my review).
  • Ed Flanders as “Walter Sims” and Johnny Whitworth as “Max Cooper” do good work here as the widower and loner teen who find a home together. The younger man is homeless, living in his car while going to high school, and the older man is moving on after the death of his wife. They find something together and it’s excellent work by both actors. Three-time Emmy winner Flanders was in the great TV movie “Salem’s Lot” (click her for my review) and “Bye Bye Love” was his final film as he took his own life at 60 the year it was released. Whitworth was in his first feature film here and was in “3:10 to Yuma.”

Lost in the shuffle is Amy Brenneman, who play’s Modine’s ex “Susan.” She comes off solid, decent and good in a nice turn, but she’s saddled with falling in love with Reiser here and that spoils pretty much her whole performance for me. She was also in “Heat” (click here for my review).

Finally, Rob Reiner plays talk show host “Dr. David Townsend” and it is his mellifluous, saccharine advice to divorced men that draws the ire of the men (especially Quaid, who ultimately confronts him). The character is well done by Reiner, but ultimately spoils Quaid’s effort as the energized actor succumbs to convention. Of course Reiner is best known for his role as “Meathead” on TV’s “All in the Family” as well as a string of credits as a director.

So, there you have it. A crappy film with some decent parts.

Bye Bye Love” was the 107th ranked film of the year in 1995 with $12.1 million in ticket sales, according to Box Office Mojo. The No. 1 film of the year was “Toy Story” with $191.7 million. Other films from 1995 that I’ve reviewed include:

Assorted cast and film notes (via IMDb.com):

  • The very hilarious Jack Black is in his fifth film here as “DJ at Party.” Of course Black was much better in “Shallow Hal” (click here for my review).
  • Comedy veteran Stephen Root has an uncredited role as a neighbor here and the film could have used more of his talent. He was on TV’s “NewsRadio” as well as films such as “No Country for Old Men.”
  • The film is so bad that IMDb.com only has three entries on its trivia page for the movie. Since you’ve read this far, you might click here to read it.

© Chuck Curry and A Gator in Naples, 2015.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without
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