In "Goodbye New York," a movie that will set back American-Israeli relations 30 years, Nancy Callaghan (Julie Hagerty), Little Miss Yuppie, quits her job and heads to Paris -- "Ya always gotta have a dream," after all -- but she falls asleep on the plane and winds up in Tel Aviv. Through a series of coincidences of the genus "madcap," she winds up in a kibbutz, picking bananas for her supper and, in a truly repulsive scene, mashing 60 of them into her face.
Callaghan starts out mourning her broken nails, but eventually she learns the value of hard work, genuine friendship and what it means to live under the guns poised on the Golan Heights. The drama of "Goodbye New York" grows out of Callaghan's clash with the Israelis' moral superiority, and it's this smugness that takes "Goodbye New York" out of the land of the merely bad into the exotic realm of the intolerable. Admiring Israel is one thing, but hearing it from the Israelis themselves, at the expense of Americans (who are portrayed as effete and nonsensical), is quite another.
What's left is an adult version of a teen sex comedy. Everyone in "Goodbye New York," from camel drivers to kibbutzniks, is impossibly sex-addled, including David (Amos Kollek), a soldier who moons about "getting laid" and ineffectually chases Callaghan for an hour. Kollek, who also wrote and directed "Goodbye New York," is the son of the mayor of Jerusalem, who presumably hasn't hired his son for his campaign ads.
Kollek goes through the movie pouting, sulking and swallowing his lines. Hagerty brings an unprepossessing schoolmarmishness to everything she does -- even when she's supposed to relax, she's brittle and censorious. Bug-eyed from her high-pitched chattering, her hair frizzing wildly around her small head, she's a cross between Elsa Lanchester and Don Knotts.
This is the kind of movie in which someone will scream "Hey look, the boat is overturned!" just so the pace can be juiced up with a rescue scene. It's also the kind of movie where, after the rescue is accomplished, a swarthy beach lizard can call it "the first time I envied someone getting mouth-to-mouth resuscitation," and not get sand kicked in his face. Yeah, you always gotta have a dream.
Goodbye New York, opening today at the Key, is unrated but contains profanity and sexual situations.