The Good Girl

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Damin J Toell, Aug 18, 2002.

  1. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

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    I couldn't find any threads about this film, so I figured I'd start one. If I missed a thread during a search, mods should of course feel free to close/merge this one. If there indeed has been no thread yet, however, I'm a little surprised. There has been some buzz about the film, especially in regards to Jennifer Aniston, so I figured someone would've started a thread by now. Anyhow, I also realize that it's only playing on 60 screens nationwide. That's one of the big reasons for my decision to live where I do.
    My post is, btw, spoiler-free.
    Anyway, I fell in love with the film, despite my apprehensions. I've loved Mike White's work since Chuck & Buck (and, although I didn't realize it at the time, Dead Man On Campus, too), which I was able to see in small crowded theatre without having any idea as to what I was really in for. In the wake of C&B, however, it seemed to me that he was being brought further into a sort of (for lack of a better term) "mainstream" comedic style. Don't get me wrong; while Orange County was quite funny, it wasn't nearly as fulfilling an experience as C&B. My main fear, therefore, was that a Jennifer Aniston vehicle was going to solidify White's usage as a screenwriter for middle-of-the-road comedies. Additionally, I wasn't particularly impressed with Miguel Arteta's direction on C&B. While certainly utilitarian and, at times, vaguely interesting, it never transcended that on-the-cheap feeling. On that count, I was afraid of being bombarded with a "blah" viewing experience.
    I was completely wrong.
    Mike White blew me away. He really achieved something with The Good Girl's script. The ear for dialogue, the pacing, the prick-tease plot developments, the absurd characters; I loved it all. Arteta has grown up along with Mike, as his direction felt real at the right moments and unreal at the right moments. If you ever wondered "what could those guys who made Chuck & Buck do if they only had some money?," this is it. White's script, in particular, has that same comedic transcendence he was able to achieve in C&B, and then some. The humor is never quite strictly black nor slapstick nor intellectual; it is all of them in a way that can only be described as "an achievement." Perhaps even more importantly, he was able to finally fully achieve the sort of dramatic payoff(s) that he was only hinting at in C&B. Arteta, too, was able to make those moments work.
    As for the acting, Aniston was quite good. Even when she plays dowdy, however, she still looks quite attractive, so the Aniston/John C. Reilly dynamic is a little tough to buy at first, but they make it work. I've been a big fan of Reilly's for a number of years now, and he doesn't disappoint. His delivery is quirky and wholly right for each moment and, most of all, it's 100% John C. Reilly. If you're a fan of his, you probably know just what I mean. Jake Gyllenhaal, however, was a little disappointing to me. While the group I saw it with (my girlfriend and 3 other friends) all liked his performance, it too often felt like I was watching him play Donnie Darko with a Texas accent. Mike White, with a much smaller role than he gave himself in C&B, is perfect during every second of screen time. His face alone is generally enough to make me want to laugh before he speaks; his dialogue and delivery made that promise of laughter a reality each time. Tim Blake Nelson, John Carroll Lynch, and Zooey Deschanel also made the most out of their limited parts (especially Deschanel, who I find to be heartbreakingly cute) and their performances might each individually be a highlight in a lesser film; in The Good Girl, however, they just keep the film moving exactly how it should.
    So. Go see it. Really. If you think you're tuned in to what Mike White's humor is all about (not that this is something one could necessarily put into words here), it's a must-see. If the general idea of touching-dramatic-comedic indie films is also your thing, this is probably 2002's Ghost World. I have no idea what the future release schedule for this film will be, so see it while it's still playing and drive far if you must.
    DJ
     
  2. MichaelPe

    MichaelPe Screenwriter

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  3. Roberto Carlo

    Roberto Carlo Second Unit

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    A good film, although I thought that some of the characters verged on being stereotypes. Let's not forget that someone directed The Good Girl as well as Chuck & Buck: Miguel Arteta.
     
  4. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    Michael,

    Thanks for the release schedule, I'm amazed, it will be opening 8/30 on two screens in my area. One of them is the only non multiplex around.
     
  5. ChrisMatson

    ChrisMatson Cinematographer

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    I saw it this past weekend and was very impressed. I never got into Friends on TV, but I'm glad that ANiston has much more range than just playing Rachel. Yes, many of the characters were stereotypical, but the story is anything but. Jake Gyllenhaal has shown me that he may be the next Tobey Maguire. John C. Reilly is great in anything he does. Tim Blake Nelson has got tons of CHARACTER. Writer (and actor) Mike White puts together some nice dialogue and a good story. [​IMG]
     
  6. Peter Kim

    Peter Kim Screenwriter

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  7. Phil Florian

    Phil Florian Screenwriter

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    Saw this tonight. It was fantastic. My wife had the same problem with the Reilly/Aniston match, but I know enough ugly guys with attractive wives (me, for one) to know that it can happen. I figured they met as kids when the drugs were cool and he was thinner...and while she grew up, he stayed the same. This flick had some of the best dialogue I have heard in a long while. In fact, I don't own many scripts of movies, but this is one I could enjoy reading from time to time. Great lines.

    I disagree with the notion of stereotypes. At least, compared to most movies that are set in the south. Beyond the slight accents, this could be set in any town between (but not including) LA and New York. In fact, I think they shied away from too many stereotypes (except, oddly enough, Mike White's character). But even his character made fun of the typical idea of a Texas Christian. The character of Gwen, if stereotyped, would have played more like Flo from "Alice" but she didn't. John C. Reilly could have
    done the typical transformation into the raging southern husband at the end, but he didn't. His was a touching and heartfelt reaction that was much more honest than most approaches to this type of revelation.
    .

    I guess I am used to movies that bath in southern stereotypes. Or any stereotypes. This movie, to me, didn't pander or talk down to any of its characters or their motivations. Great job. Hope it does well.


    Phil
     
  8. Mark Palermo

    Mark Palermo Second Unit

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    I caught a press screening this morning, and liked it very much. I was surprised at how good Aniston is (she'd never previously impressed me), though I found the focus on working class characters, coupled with the message "Just learn to appreciate what you DO have," to be a little condescending.

    Mark
     
  9. Vickie_M

    Vickie_M Producer

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    I just had a movie marathon, going to see The Good Girl, One Hour Photo and 13 Conversations About One Thing. They were all very good, but I liked TGG best. I've never seen an episode of FRIENDS (yes, I have been living under a rock, why do you ask?), so I only know Aniston from Office Space and Rock Star. She was great!
    While the movie was funny, it had an undercurrent of intense sadness and thoughtfulness to it. I've known people like this and these are not stereotypes. This is playing like an "arthouse" film, but I think it would resonate with the millions and millions of Justines out there, all around the country. Too bad most of them will never see it, not even after it comes out on video/DVD.
    Highly recommended!
     
  10. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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    Here are my thoughts on the film:
    In 1971, Peter Bogdanovich gave audiences The Last Picture Show, which is a sad examination of the complexity of life in a small and dying town along with its inhabitants living their lives full of loneliness and unrealized dreams. That film would become one of the most highly acclaimed films ever made.
    Fast forward to 2002 and the second collaboration of Mike White and Miguel Arteta as writer and director, respectively, would become one of this year’s strongest films. The film is called The Good Girl. Their first film together was Chuck and Buck. While that film bordered on nobility or ostentation, credibility or absurdity, and practicality or the lack thereof, The Good Girl does not come with the problems as their first film did.
    The film boasts a very talented cast, which includes John C. Reilly, Jake Gyllenhaal (Donnie Darko), and Tim Blake Nelson with Jennifer Aniston at its helm in a very surprising acting turn.
    The film, among other things, is a morality tale with its message delivered in a backhanded manner. By making the film a dark comedy and satirical at the same time, it avoids the pitfalls that many films of this type fall into, one of which is their tendency to become heavy handed. The subtle manner in which Mike White carefully structures the script gives the audiences more to think about long after the film’s end credits have finished rolling.
    What we have here are individuals living a life in quiet desperation. While the focus this time is on the working class, these individuals and their anxieties can be found in just about any social strata. These individuals are not trapped in their everyday existence unable to free themselves inasmuch as they are bored with their daily routines along with the feeling of hopelessness.
    Each of the primary three male characters brings with them a trait or two that are both unexpected and unpredictable. In essence, we question why they act the way they do despite their unassuming outside appearance. But the main character we follow is Justine (played by Jeniffer Aniston) as she weaves through the storylines’ many twists and turns. Aniston virtually becomes a different person altogether in this film compared to her TV sitcom character. She delivers a performance that is both memorable and respectable.
    In the end, what the film sends is a message of regret and hope, and from the most unexpected places, one of compassion and forgiveness.
    The Good Girl is a film that basks in humanity with characters that are fully realized and rich in its dialogue. The Fall movie season is definitely upon us.
    ~Edwin
     
  11. Elizabeth S

    Elizabeth S Producer

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  12. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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    I am also baffled by the criticisms about the characters being stereotypes. By pointing this out, are you saying that the behaviors exhibited by the characters in this film is unrealistic or is anything but honest?

    ~Edwin
     
  13. ChrisMatson

    ChrisMatson Cinematographer

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    Clarifications:
    Yes, my Tobey Maguire reference is meant to be a compliment. A bit dark, mysterious, intelligent, and fragile.

    As for "stereotypical," I mean that there is a blue collar painter husband that smokes pot and has a loser friend, there is a store manager who is out-of-touch with the employees, and many of the small town folk come across as naive.

    The behavior of the characters is genuine, but some of the characters are stereotypical. Maybe, in reality, most people are stereotypical...
     
  14. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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    I don't know if I would call the behavior of the store manager and the character of John C. Reilly as stereotypical. There are others in the same group of people that are totally different from these characters.

    Anyway, "stereotype" is an oversimplified standardized image or idea given to a person or group of people and usually meant in a less than positive light.

     
  15. Shawn Shultzaberger

    Shawn Shultzaberger Supporting Actor

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    My wife and I went to go see it, this past weekend. After the movie I was kind of stupified in the fact that I just didn't know what to think of it.

    And after having a few days to think about it, I've come to the conclusion that I liked it. It had a Coen Brothers feel to it without the upbeat comedy although it was Written by Mike White and Directed by Miguel Arteta. I didn't love it but I liked it.

    Jennifer Aniston, John C. Reilly and Jake Gyllenhaal were great. Jake continues to grow on me as a good actor and can be seen again in another movie coming up soon.

    I will lump this movie and it's feel in with Donnie Darko and Gross Pointe Blank.

    All together a very good movie. Definitely check it out when it hits the rental stores.
     

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