Goodbye Girl [1977]

More than a quarter-century after Herbert Ross directed Richard Dreyfuss to an Oscar and made an indelible cinematic impression out of Neil Simon's The Goodbye Girl, a 2004 television remake starring Jeff Daniels and Patricia Heaton proved winning and funny in its own way. Daniels plays Elliot, an actor who subleases a New York City apartment already occupied by a dancer and single mom, Paula (Heaton), and her daughter (Hallie Kate Eisenberg). Focused on his stagecraft, Elliot is irked about sharing housing with strangers, and while Paula feels the same (to great comic effect), both come to lean on and finally love one another over time. The underrated Daniels is very good here, nuanced and thoughtful, and his work performing (as Elliot) in a stage production of Richard III is quite entertaining. Heaton is equally strong and frequently stirring; anyone with doubts about this film's casting will quickly forget them. --Tom Keogh

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