Nora McPhee (Mason) is an inner-city English teacher and single mother struggling to make ends meet with her teenage son, Michael (Broderick). After her car is stolen, she meets cop Brian Costello (Sutherland), who asks her out on a date. Just when things are looking up in her personal life, Nora's estranged and shady father Max (Robards) shows up with a suspicious satchel of loot, and turns her life upside down.
Neil Simon's light, charming tale about an elderly ex-con trying to make amends with his daughter and grandson is a fun, heartwarming affair under Herbert Ross's able direction. Mason and Robards have a playful rapport, Sutherland is perfectly cast as the smitten detective who suspects Nora is hiding something, and Broderick (in his screen debut) is as hilariously quirky and wide-eyed as his future alter ego, Ferris Bueller. A kooky farce with a big heart, "Max Dugan Returns" may not change your life, but its rags-to-riches concept is pure comic delight.