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‘Bye Bye, Love’

By Hal Hinson
Washington Post Staff Writer
March 17, 1995

 


Director:
Sam Weisman
Cast:
Paul Reiser;
Matthew Modine;
Randy Quaid;
Janeane Garofalo;
Amy Brenneman;
Lindsay Crouse;
Jayne Brook;
Rob Reiner
PG-13
Children under 13 should be accompanied by a parent


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The generous-minded may want to call "Bye Bye, Love" a movie, but in reality it's little more than a warm, fuzzy commercial for traditional family values.

Directed by Sam Weisman, this cloying, preachy movie features the parental misadventures of a trio of best friends trying to keep their families together -- not to mention their heads -- in the wake of divorce. Dave (Matthew Modine), Donny (Paul Reiser) and Vic (Randy Quaid) are die-hard comrades through marital thick and thin, but since leaving their respective wives and kids, things have been more thin than thick. Their spouses have always done most of the parenting; now that they have weekend visitation rights, the men haven't the slightest clue how to cope.

The way Weisman conveys this is through a clumsy parade of shopworn notions about single parenthood, freshened only slightly by the fact that the parents in question are male. Baffled by the problems their children present, these guy's guys trade recipes and whine about how they can't get little whatsisname to take his bath anymore. Vic, who hates his wife (Lindsay Crouse), is a cynic and a grump; Donny, who can't get over his (Jayne Brook), is a sensitive romantic; and Dave, who constantly cheated on his wife ("NYPD Blue's" Amy Brenneman), is a woman-trawling opportunist.

Weisman and his collaborators (writers Brad Hall and Gary David Goldberg) ricochet shamelessly between facile comedy and strained pathos. As a result, the performances seem two-faced and conditional; they're one thing one minute, and another the next. Reiser takes the sensitive, '90s man thing so far that he makes Alan Alda look like Conan the Barbarian. Playing a hunk, Modine looks as if he were trying to channel the ghost of John Wayne. Quaid is the one glorious exception -- especially when Vic goes on his blind date with Lucille (played by the divinely deranged Janeane Garofalo).

Connecting all is a radio talk show host (played deftly by Rob Reiner), who is in the midst of a 48-hour marathon about divorce and who comments indirectly on the actions of the characters, urging them to grow up, get it together and stay together.

Thankfully, the picture doesn't leave it at that. Its point of view, basically, is that divorce is hard. And that what we have to do is love our kids. "That's all: Just love 'em." It's a tough point to argue with, but as the man once said, next time, take out a billboard.

   
© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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