Bye Bye, Love
Directed by Sam Weisman. Starring Matthew Modine, Paul Reiser, Randy Quaid, Amy Brenneman, Lindsay Crouse, Janeane Garofalo, Rob Reiner, Eliza Dushku, Ed Flanders. (1995, PG-13, 106 min.)
REVIEWED By Alison Macor, Fri., March 24, 1995
Divorced dads often get a bad rap in films. Bye Bye, Love attempts to paint a fuller picture of the weekend father, but falls short of creating a truly entertaining film by trying to do too much. Perhaps this drawback is the result of the “too many cooks” theory: Director Weisman (D2: The Mighty Ducks) ,producer Gary David Goldberg, and writer-producer Brad Hall -- all colleagues from television's Brooklyn Bridge -- stress in interviews that they all contributed to this story, which was conceived around real-life events. Bye Bye, Love follows three divorced fathers, all good friends: Dave (Modine), Vic (Quaid), and Donny (Reiser). From the opening scene at a friend's fourth wedding to their weekend exchange of the kids at a local McDonald's, these men try to be good fathers, friends, and ex-husbands as they make their way through the minefield known as single parenthood. The film is full of some comic and often touching moments. Quaid's performance as Vic is the most interesting; Vic's cynicism toward relationships imbues his character with a brittle humor that seems more believable than either Reiser's naïvely optimistic Donny or Modine's oversexed Dave. Vic's first blind date in months with a woman named Lucille (Garofalo) is truly a nightmare, which makes it all the more entertaining to watch. Quaid also has some of the best lines in the script, such as calling his ex-wife's car the “child-support mobile.” Fans of Reiser's character Paul on Mad About You will appreciate his portrayal of Donny, but Reiser's comedic body language makes him seem unnecessarily hyper in comparison to the more laid-back characterizations by Quaid and Modine. As a shallow and sexually overactive single father, Modine is appropriately one-dimensional; however, in his character's final transformation Modine's acting fails to make the leap into three-dimensionality. All of the children's roles are well cast; Emma (Dushku), in particular, shines as a parent's temporary nightmare: the uncommunicative teenager. Where Bye Bye, Love fails is in its attempt to weave a number of plot lines that fragment what could be a tight little story. The introduction of two characters from the McDonald's where the fathers meet to pick up their children feels especially forced. At times cute and often funny, Bye Bye, Love does its best to present a humorous and meaningful picture of dysfunctional families in the Nineties, but its ultimate failure parallels its main characters who, as “weekend warriors,” overcompensate for their absence in their children's lives by trying to do too much at once.