Copyright 1999-2002 3BlackChicks Enterprises™. All Rights Reserved.

Bams' review of
The Good Girl


The Good Girl (2002)
Rated R; running time 93 minutes
Studio: Fox Searchlight
Genre: Dramedy
Seen at: Celebration Cinema (Lansing, Michigan)
Official site:
IMDB site:
Written by: Mike White
Directed by: Miguel Arteta
Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Jake Gyllenhaal, John C. Reilly, Tim Blake Nelson, Zooey Deschanel, Deborah Rush, Mike White, John Carroll Lynch

Review Copyright Rose Cooper, 2002

(click here to skip to this movie's rating)

Assumptions always get the best of me. Here I was, assuming that Possession would be the better of the two movies I'd see this weekend, and even with its decent cast, The Good Girl would be a waste of my time. It seems I forgot what they say happens when you assume too much...

THE STORY (WARNING: **spoilers contained below**)
Justine Last (Jennifer Aniston) has spent her life being the good girl. She's been the good wife to her somewhat slow, pothead husband Phil (John C. Reilly), the good friend to her Cow-Orker Gwen (Deborah Rush) as well as Phil's equally slow, pothead buddy Bubba (Tim Blake Nelson), and the good worker for her store manager boss, Jack Field (John Carroll Lynch). But at 30, Justine is disaffected with life in general. Her life feels like a prison, and she wants to break out.

Justine thinks she's found that "out" in Holden Worther (Jake Gyllenhaal), a young loner who is also trapped in the hell that is the Retail Rodeo. Holden is a passionate writer who gave up the "slave name" his parents placed on him, and took on the name of a character in one of his favorite books. Justine sees Holden as a potential soulmate; he, too, finally feels free with the first woman who actually could Get him. Justine takes the plunge towards adultery and overall ungoodness, but even this turns ugly, in more ways than she could ever imagine.

I was totally unprepared to like this movie as much as I did. To be sure, the cast was tight; I knew I'd like the marvelous John C. Riley and Tim Blake Nelson going in, though I had no idea that Zooey Deschanel would be bust-a-gut funny (Cheryl's snarkastic announcements had me rollin'). And when I saw writer Mike White's name in the cast list, I groaned at first; but his bible-thumpin' character, Corny (if ever there was a character so aptly named...), wound up speaking one of the funniest lines of the flick. Well, second only to Store Manager Jack Field's advice: "Don't steal...and don't be disturbed".

But Jake Gyllenhaal showed quite a different side of himself here; I'd gotten used to his clean-cut (if overwhelmed) boy next door image in previous movies (to be repeated, apparently, in the upcoming Moonlight Mile). But his Holden character was Something Else Entirely. I had to squint a few times to see if that was Gyllenhaal on screen, he was that different from what we've seen of him before.

The real revelation for me, though, was Jennifer Aniston. I've never seen a single episode of Friends, and have always felt the happier for it. But in this movie, Aniston not only held her own against the formidable amount of talent around her, she excelled. I found myself rooting for Justine, even when she made mistake after mistake after mistake. Maybe it's because I've Felt Her Pain in the past; no, not with the pothead husband, but I've known that Trapped In The Seventh Circle Of Hell feeling before, and it's not at all a good place to be. Not unless you're a moviegoer, witnessing someone else's issues, and cheering for them to break free, that is.

Reminiscent of the grooves of Raising Arizona and American Beauty without being derivative of either film, The Good Girl is a good end-of-summer movie: deep enough to get your attention, yet lighthearted enough to not bring you too far down.

THE GOOD GIRL:   green

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And that's the way I see it.

Rose "Bams" Cooper
3BlackChicks Review™
Copyright Rose Cooper, 2002
EMAIL:    ICQ: 7760005

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