On plot alone, the Neil Simon-penned The Goodbye Girl can be a middling, fairly predictable late-1970s romantic comedy, but some of its building blocks are fantastic. The set-up—Richard Dreyfuss’ megalomaniac actor sublets his friend’s apartment only to find the friend has absconded to Italy leaving a spurned girlfriend (Marsha Mason) and her daughter behind—is a tale that only happens in the brutal world of Manhattan real estate. While the script twists its way to an inevitably happy conclusion, we are at least treated to a full plate of Simon’s screwball wisecracks. And of course, not to be missed is Dreyfuss’ turn in a production of Richard III that helped land him an Academy Award for best actor and would make veterans of Springtime for Hitler pink with jealousy. It’s not enough to make The Goodbye Girl wonderful, but it makes one wish that today’s rom-coms included a Brooksian set piece to break the tension.
THE GOODBYE GIRL SHOWS AT SUNSET (AROUND 8:30 P.M.) ON THE NATIONAL MALL BETWEEN 4TH AND 7TH STREETS. FREE.