28 August 2018 | TheLittleSongbird
One goodbye that won't leave you speechless
There was a lot of promise with 'Goodbye Charlie', this was not a case of it being a bad idea from the start. Namely that it was directed by the very capable Vincente Minnelli, who was very, very good when at his best. It is hard to resist actors of such likeability in Tony Curtis and Debbie Reynolds and Walter Matthau is also always well worth the while. The idea did intrigue somewhat.
Yet somehow, 'Goodbye Charlie' really didn't do an awful lot for me. Not a complete misfire of a film by all means, but considering the huge potential and how much talent there was involved it was disappointing by quite a big degree. It's not terrible and certainly not a must avoid, it's also not particularly good either and has its faults, for me 'Goodbye Charlie' was a mixed bag sort of film that's difficult to rate and review.
'Goodbye Charlie' looks good, there is an elegant glossy sheen to the cinematography and the settings and especially the costumes are beautiful to watch. The music is dynamic and easy on the ears. Minnelli directs stylishly.
Curtis has a tricky role that makes him less likeable than his usual persona, he brings charm and grit to it. Reynolds tries too hard at times but acts with enthusiasm and commitment. Pat Boone makes the most of his rather thankless role. The best performance, even with the questionable Hungarian accent, comes from Matthau having a whale of a time. There is some nice wit in the script, the best line from the whole film coming from Mattheau (concerning him being left speechless if he wasn't Hungarian) and Curtis and Reynolds's chemistry sparkles. Interesting seeing an early appearance from Ellen Burstyn and the opening is a delight.
However, the wit is very largely variable, sometimes it is there but at others (and too frequently so) it's not. There is a fair bit of smut here and it's not done in a snappy or sophisticated way and is not particularly funny. Instead it's not always in good taste, much of it actually vulgar, and likely to make one feel uncomfortable, it doesn't hold up particularly well.
The story does have issues with pacing, with some aimless dragging going on and the film doesn't really go very far as an overall whole. It does run out of steam and ideas too early and the initially good concept wears thin and gets silly and over-stretched, the story too thin for the overlong running time. The supporting cast generally are wasted, Boone deserved better, and some of the characters felt incidental completely to the story and like they were there for padding reasons. The ending does betray the running out of ideas, it felt very tacked on and anti-climactic almost like a cop-out.
Overall, good production values and cast but the script and story needed a lot of work. 5/10 Bethany Cox