Friday, February 19, 2010

Movie with Abe: The Good Guy

The Good Guy
Directed by Julio DePietro
Released February 19, 2010

The biggest question in “The Good Guy” is just who exactly is being referred to in the title. Is it the fast-talking Wall Street wunderkind who, despite exhibiting some of the same shameful characteristics of his cohorts, seems to see that such a frivolous and casual lifestyle isn’t for him, or is it the shy, impossibly kindly tech geek who is given the opportunity to enter the fast-paced world of Wall Street and become a wholly different person? And, more crucially, will either one of them end up with the sweet young woman yearning for a fantasy trip to Italy and the perfect guy?

All these questions and more are probed, if not quite fully answered, in this new comedy from first-time director Juli DePietro. “The Good Guy” is a devastatingly familiar story that is basically a less effective version of the “500 Days of Summer” formula where it’s made abundantly clear from the very first moment that the guy loses the girl. With such expectations out there from the start, there aren’t many places to go, and it’s hard to craft a compelling film when the characters seem dead set on ending up unhappy.

“The Good Guy,” despite its attempts to define the notion of what a good guy really is, stays fully and unflinchingly on the surface. It doesn’t dig deep into the characters and try to explore their motivations or emotions. Characters talk and talk but don’t really say anything, and the story turns on frivolous moments instead of legitimate plot progressions. The twists are often surprising and don’t really track with the developments of the story up until then. There’s no sense that the audience is really getting to know any of the characters, not that there really seems to be much to discover about any of them. One character even utters the line “we’re only ugly on the inside, so it’s okay,” lending little credence to the depth of the script.

There’s little fresh or ultimately intriguing about this story, and figuring out who the good guy is just isn’t all that worthwhile. The cast contains some talented actors who have performed commendably in signature performances in the past, but that experience hardly translates here. Scott Porter (“Friday Night Lights”) oozes charisma and smarminess even when he’s trying to appear like the nicest guy ever. His excessive enthusiasm makes up for the relative sedateness of Alexis Bledel (“Gilmore Girls”) and Bryan Greenberg (“October Road”), both of who seem intent on staying put in the background and not fostering up too much emotion. Andrew McCarthy, in his brief appearance as the man who likely taught Porter’s eager young salesman everything he knows, makes sure to milk his screen time for as much as it’s worth, but it’s a bit too much. The unimpressive ensemble performance and disappointing screenplay are made up for, in part, by the one thing the film really has going for it, a strong and ever-present soundtrack that nicely complements the various lifestyles its protagonists lead.


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