Poor, Lonely Steve Martin

Poor, Lonely Steve Martin

Steve Martin had his moment. He’s still a revered dude in comedy, but no longer in the way he was back during the ‘70s and ‘80s. Bummer. He still has a special place in my heart though.

I played dub records on a community radio station a few years back. Mostly instrumentals and what not. It was received pretty well – at least alota Jamaicans called in and said they were into it. So, that’s good. But I would try to work in interesting material and play stuff on-top of the dubs. Sometimes it worked better than others. But I specifically recall being excited to mix in some Steve Martin stand-up routines. I thought it turned out well. Surely it was startling to hear, but that was the point. There shouldn’t be a boundary to any music despite its codification.

I received a barrage of angry calls. Each told me to stop. I did.

That was the last time I really though – THOUGHT – about Steve Martin. Was it his routine that aggravated folks, or my derivation on a traditional form? Either way, I still like the guy’s movies. And thanks to Hulu, you, dear reader, can watch The Lonely Guy. Yeah, there’re some commercials, but deal with it. It streams.

Being released in 1984, The Lonely Guy came in the middle of Martin’s commercial success. He’d already done The Jerk with Little Shop of Horrors and Three Amigos! being just a few years off, there  seemed like an endless amount of possible paths for this dude to go down. He was funny, a good writer and relatively handsome when compared to his SNL cohort. Everything he did worked.

And I’ll argue that The Lonely Guy worked despite the fact that it’s been pretty much universally panned since its release. Granted, there isn’t another star in the film, one that draws any of the burden off of Martin’s shoulders. Charles Grodin turns in a good performance, but his character, Warren, isn’t meant to ever be the focus, just a guy to spur on the Martin character. And the Martin character is meant top relay a life of sadness and solitude.

The narrative begins as they meet in a park subsequent to Martin’s girlfriend dumping him. There’re some scenes with the Grodin character assisting Martin into the life of a recluse. It’s not all bad being a lonely guy.

Martin’s work doesn’t suffer and his new bachelor pad is coming along nicely, but he can’t find a girl. There’re a sequence of scenes, admittedly not all that hilarious, that find him attempting to capture love in some awkward positions and situations. It eventually works, but Martin looses the girl’s number along the way.

Written by Neil Simon, it’s somehow difficult to imagine the internationally famed scribe being able to come up with this tail of solitude. Everything works out in the end – but maybe it’s the life of the author. Who knows? The Lonely Guy isn’t the most incredible film out there, but it does what it sets out to do. So it works, kinda.