Indican Pictures // 1996 // 98 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Geoffrey Miller (Retired) // January 19th, 2007
Please make the pain stop -- now.
I thought it might be unfair to start off a review of Always Say Goodbye talking about Desperate Housewives just because Marcia Cross is on the cover. I changed my mind, however, when a quick IMDb search revealed that it was sold in the U.K. as Desperate Housewife: The Early Years. If the distributor was desperate enough (no pun intended) to play up the connection, it's fair game. I'm not a fan of the show. I've seen, by my estimates, around 5-10 minutes of it total. But even I know the five main housewives, and Marcia Cross is my least favorite. Eva Longoria's the hottie, Felicity Huffman's the one with actual acting chops, Teri Hatcher's the resident MILF, and uhh...there's the other MILFy one too. But Cross is just...the redhead with slightly creepy eyebrows.
So here's the scoop on Always Say Goodbye, it's a romantic dramedy written, produced, and directed by Josh Beckett, who also stars. As you've probably already guessed, a pre-fame Marcia Cross plays his love interest. You've also probably already guessed that I'm not a fan of the movie, through my snarky, nonchalant tone.
Nick Evans (Josh Beckett) is a thirty-something, vaguely directionless womanizer who goes through women faster than cigarettes. He's neurotic, talky, and has a self-deprecating sense of humor; of course, he also has a major fear of commitment. He has a goofy, slightly overweight roommate, Paul (Phillip Brock), whom he likes to discuss his romantic problems with in depth. Pretend that you haven't seen this guy a million times before and maybe his whole "nice guy who needs that special lady to make an honest man out of him" shtick won't annoy you within five minutes.
One night at a smoky bar, he meets Anne Kidwell, who may just be that special lady (Why else would she be on the cover?). They have sex on the first date. But wait, there's more! Despite both being commitment-phobic and dysfunctional, they embark on something resembling a "serious relationship." His struggle to make it as a photographer earns her respect, while she brings down big bucks as a fashion designer (at the cost of her artistic dreams). Will they manage to make it work? Do you expect surprises out of a movie that thinks "driving down a dead-end street at 100 miles an hour" is a deep metaphor for relationship turmoil? Is it merely coincidence that this nearly decade-old film is the last listed credit for Joshua Beckett on IMDb?
Always Say Goodbye is an awful head-on collision between a Lifetime movie and Z-grade Woody Allen (also equal to B-grade Edward Burns) male point-of-view, relationship introspection. None of the comedy works, there are barely explored subplots that go nowhere, and the whole relationship that's supposed to be the focus of the film is bereft of drama. They have a medium-sized spat, follow that up with a medium-sized make-up, and roll credits alongside the painful realization that I've lost 98 minutes of my life that I'm not getting back. Even the average pay cable late-night filler flick is way better.
Oh, and it has a pegging scene for some bizarre reason. I thought I had stepped into a dramatization of a Savage Love column for a second.
The one redeeming aspect of Always Say Goodbye is its cast, which is full of solid, familiar character actors. Liz Sheridan (best known as Helen Seinfeld) does a damned good Jewish mother, as usual. Nick's pregnant, single sister is played by the always dependable Polly Draper (thirtysomething). Even Cross won me over, making far more out of her one-dimensional character and stilted dialogue than they deserved.
The transfer is unacceptably poor. The picture came out a garbled mess on my main DVD player. Big, chunky artifacts covered every frame. On my PS2 and PC, it was slightly better, merely looking washed out and overcompressed. My player otherwise has been 100 percent reliable with anything else I've thrown at it, so I'm blaming it on Indican's shoddy work. On top of that, despite being a 1.85:1 film (or as the back cover incorrectly puts it, "1:85"), the transfer is non-anamorphic. That's simply intolerable in this day and age. A few inessential deleted scenes don't make up for it, and the long, unskippable (you can't even fast-forward!) trailer for some god-awful WW2 comedy that's forced upon you before the main menu just adds insult to injury
Barely mediocre film, crappy transfer -- what else do I have to say? Maybe something snappy and witty like, "You'd have to be pretty desperate to watch this?" Or perhaps, "Say goodbye to this piece of garbage?" Sure, if that's what'll tickle your fancy. But I'll say it more directly: Don't even bother.
Review content copyright © 2007 Geoffrey Miller; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Indican Pictures
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 98 Minutes
Release Year: 1996
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Deleted scenes
* Photo gallery
* Theatrical trailer