- Movie Rating -

The Buddy System (1984)

| January 20, 1984

Ever have déjà vu?  It’s that sensation of familiarity like you’re doing something that you have done before?  I get that every time I write a review of a movie written by Neil Simon.  When writing my reviews of Chapter Two, Only When I Laugh, I Ought to Be in Pictures and Max Dugan Returns, I get the feeling that I’ve written the same sentences, the same phrases, the same commentary and when I look back at my old reviews, I find that this is exactly what I’ve done.

It’s easy to do because Simon’s screenplays all seem to have the same exact problem.  He has a firm grasp on family drama, of people who are disconnected and struggle with reconnection with all the messy baggage that goes along with it.  And yet, he insists on stuffing words into their mouths that no human being in the world would ever say.  His dialogue is jokey and cute with lines that are written to be read.  They never sound like natural speech.

Mom: “Why aren’t you dressed?”
Kid: “I can’t find my blue T-Shirt.”
Mom: “Well, wear the green one”
Kid: “If you wear the green one on Thursday, it means that you’re gay.”

Who talks like that?  People in stupid movies like this do.  The Buddy System stars Richard Dreyfuss and Susan Sarandon, two of the most intelligent and likable people in the movies as lonely hearts who are dating people not worthy of them.  Sarandon is a single mother who dating Jim (Edward Winter) a man so self-centered that he seems to fear that the words ‘I love you’ will give him a cerebral hemorrhage.  Meanwhile Dreyfuss is dating an empty-headed narcissist named Carrie (Nancy Allen) who offers this nugget of self-doubt: “I have this problem with my self-esteem; the minute I turn away from the mirror I think I’m short and fat.”  Ug!

I have condemned his previous screenplays for having good stories downed by cute dialogue. This movie goes completely bankrupt because the story is little more than a retread of The Goodbye Girl without that film’s wit and warmth and characters.  It’s the exact same story even employing Richard Dreyfuss who won an Oscar for that film but seems to be flailing here.  This turns out to be one of those movie where you know exactly what is going to be said and what is going to be done at every turn.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1984) View IMDB Filed in: Comedy