Steve Martin takes a small but blessed step toward character comedy in this otherwise unwieldy adaptation of Bruce Jay Friedman’s The Lonely Guy’s Book of Life. As a yuppie searching desperately for a mate, Martin lets a few signs of life flash from his cartoon face; his scenes with Charles Grodin (as a fellow sufferer) feel improvised and are pleasantly relaxed and naturalistic. The film gets in trouble, as most contemporary comedies do, when it runs out of disassociated gags and casts about desperately for a story to tell; here, the “lonely guy” premise is dropped completely for a series of more-or-less conventional romantic misunderstandings centered on a dull Judith Ivey. Arthur Hiller’s direction exudes a flavorless professionalism, a quality that doesn’t count for much in this context. With Steve Lawrence and Robyn Douglass (1984).