Wednesday, December 15, 2010

12 Days of Favorites: Neil Simon's The Goodbye Girl

The story of Love & Squalor begins many years before the fateful meeting of Wilde.Dash and M, long before the almost nightly movie marathons on uncomfortable and rank smelling dorm furniture and Sound of Music sing-a-longs. From the mid 80’s on, unaware of each others’ presence, M and Wilde.Dash were bonding with family, not over board games or a large family meal (ok, there was a lot of that too), but over the likes of Woody Allen and Walter Pidgeon. The holidays in said families were filled with the usual Christmas fair, but also with strange family film favorites and traditions. So hang your stockings with care and when your sister starts complaining about your billionth viewing of It’s a Wonderful Life and how boooooring it is, spend your 12 Days of Christmas with the movies that have followed Love & Squalor from infancy to bloggerhood.

The Goodbye Girl is my connection to my parents and happy memories. No, my Dad was not an unemployed actor that arrived on my Mother’s door step due to a misunderstanding that forced both into an annoying cohabitation that would eventually turn from neurosis to love. But the style of the film, the feeling of it, and hundreds of family viewings of it, have made it an official part of the M family film canon. When my Mom was in and out of the hospital, the first thing we did was bring The Goodbye Girl and a laptop, huddled around her bed to watch it. When there’s nothing to watch and no one can agree on a Redbox outing, out comes our favorite Neil Simon story. When its Valentine’s Day and the latest Katherine Heigl movie is the only one to watch, out comes our favorite romance. But even for those of you without ties to Ma and Pop M of the old days, the film is hilarious, simultaneously high brow and intellectual, but also down to earth. It’s the most sincere love story I've found, thanks to Richard Dreyfuss and Marsha Mason who disappear into their roles, roles neither wooden or stereotypical. It's the movie that taught me what I want in a relationship, a mix of the fantastical true love story, and the earthly yet magical. It gives you the satisfaction of a Woody Allen film, but is stripped of the artifice, leaving behind laughs, heart, and 70's perfection.

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