"The Good Girl"
Directed by Miguel Arteta.
Written by Mike White ("Chuck and Buck").
Starring Jennifer Aniston, Steve Buscemi, John C. Reilly and
Release Year: 2002
Review Date: 8/27/02
Hey, I’ll admit it—I hate “Friends” and
everyone associated with the NBC sitcom.
But, if Jennifer Aniston decides to do this
movie thing full-time, then I’ll hang out. She is great in the new
film “The Good Girl” for being anything but, and her turn is so
un-star-like that you sometimes forget that she is married to that
Pitt guy. Texas homegirl Justine (Aniston) works at the shitty dive
store Retail Rodeo, a Wal-Mart rip-off that has every piece of white
trash in the city working there. Justine’s home life seems even
worse than her day job—she is married to a good-guy stoner (John C.
Reilly) and she wants badly to get pregnant but her husband has got
“bad sperm.” Things start to change for the 30-year-old Justine
when she meets new cashier Holden (Jake Gyllenhaal), and the twosome
begin an affair that has some bad consequences for everyone
“The Good Girl” is one of the few movies of
the genre to mix comedy and drama so well. Everything that happens
at the Retail Rodeo is hilarious, from the pissed-off employees to
the “specialists” at the cosmetics counter to the picnic benches out
in front of the store that make up the store’s lunchroom. John
Carroll Lynch is great as the store manager, and Zooey Deschanel is
perfect as Aniston’s co-worker Cheryl—you can just see the angry
teenagers that work at Kmart and you basically have Cheryl’s role in
the film. Tim Blake Nelson plays Reilly’s best friend Bubby in the
film and his take on what it would be like to be a woman is
funny...but, his tirade against his insane canine later in the film
is much funnier. And, Aniston’s comedic experience comes in handy
here in her reaction shots to some of the activities in the store;
her baffled looks, kooky walk and Southern speech patterns make for
quite a character.
But, it is the dramatic elements of “The
Good Girl” that make it worth recommending. Justine’s voiceovers
concerning life on the fringe of human existence are really
interesting and made me reflect on my own life even while the film
was still going on; her convictions really take hold of you after
you leave the theater. And, it poses good questions of all of us
that have dreams, or feel stuck in a situation that we see no way
out of; being stuck in a dead-end marriage or facing a life-altering
decision, as Justine does in the final moments of the film.
Justine’s handling of her affair with Holden is intriguing (even if
it is far-fetched), and it was cool to see a lead character stay
consistent for a full film. Holden’s passion for Justine made sense
to me (most movie romances don’t) because of their shared hatred of
the path that their lives seem to be heading towards; while Holden
is too young at 22 to really understand what that all means, it is
Justine that comes out looking the more immature because she doesn’t
think things through.
“The Good Girl” is a surprising piece of
entertainment. It is a good crowd-pleaser that also has more
adult-themed situations later in the film...and, it does a great job
of painting a group of characters as real people with really big
problems. It does slow over the course of its final half-hour, and
I felt like the movie tried to paint Reilly’s character as a better
guy than he is near the end. But these and other minor gripes
didn’t take away from the overall experience; pretty good stuff
Rating: $9.00 Show
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard