So many Filmmakers are obsessed with the middle-class.
Without really bothering to check in on us, they've portrayed ceaselessly
as dead-eyed suburbanites, boring and drab, clawing at our skin
to break out and live like them. It seems like the only guy with
an artistic bone in his body who sticks up for us is David Byrne.
And that guy's freakin' nuts but at least when he says "I wouldn't
live there if they paid me to," you know he doesn't mean it.
I don't know, maybe we are pathetic, if pathetic
means getting drunk and arguing with the neighbor's sprinklers because
they think they're such hot shit. Or having a picture of you published
in the "Arvada Sentinel," crapping in a dumpster. Then
they refuse to run your letter to the editor explaining your cleanliness
compulsion about public restrooms, so you end up just looking like
any regular jerk who'd drop trou and pinch a loaf in public. That
sort of notoriety makes it really fucking hard to get a job at the
new Wendy's. "I see that you have a high school diploma hey,
wait a minute. Aren't you the Crapping Bandit?"
Even if that's pathetic, though, I'm a happy man.
I have a beautiful wife who can cook her pants off. Figuratively.
Man, if she did literally, I'd be humping her on the kitchen floor
until the downstairs light fixtures broke loose. I have a car that
runs, a dog that's mostly housetrained, and a shitload of books
from the library I checked out with a card I found. I wake up every
day in the early afternoon, scratch my balls for, like, an hour,
and say "I'm a lucky son of a bitch." Then I read old
New Yorkers and try to get on radio call-in shows so I can make
arm farts. That's how Jeff Foxworthy got discovered, you know.
The question I have is this: is it more pathetic
to be from the suburbs or an urban hipster who can't think of anything
better to do than write about the suburbs? Aren't authors supposed
to write what they know? If that's true, and escaping the suburbs
is so liberating, I don't understand why these filmmakers can't
come up with something better to write about. What do they do at
their cocktail parties, sit around and talk about how lame lawns
and tract homes are? I mean, aren't they supposed to be having orgies,
overdosing on designer drugs and drag racing on Sunset Boulevard?
And if they have to talk about the suburbs, why
portray them as boring and sad in such a trite and tiresome way?
Who in the fuck are they trying to entertain? I guess we're supposed
to sit there and say, "Yep, that's me, a total loser. God I
wish I had a better life, where I could write about total losers
instead of being one."
The Good Girl is the latest monologue about
the soul-sucking powers of the lower middle-class. It's funny in
spots, but mostly powerful dull, and it leaves a thick, icky aftertaste
of a bitterness that should have been let go a long time ago. This
is old ground, like American Beauty, retrampled by amateur
cows. The people aren't sympathetic or interesting, mostly because
they're phony and exaggerated. They're written to be more like bowling
pins for the big mighty Mike White to knock over than as real, sympathetic
Jennifer Aniston is a 30-year-old bored cashier
at the Retail Rodeo, a Zody's/Woolworth type joint that went extinct
long ago (had White bothered to check). She has absolutely nothing
going on in her life. Her husband (John C. Reilly) is a stoner housepainter
with even less going on. Out of boredom, she's attracted to the
new, moody Rodeo cashier, Jake Glylenhall. He's younger, only 22,
fancies himself Holden Caulfield and is borderline psychotic. His
depression is somehow attractive and mysterious. Aniston finds herself
falling into a tawdry affair and caught by her husband's friend.
She has to spin more and more lies and compromises as she struggles
to pull herself out of the increasing tangles. Ultimately, she must
choose between her loving but dull husband and her drunk, insane
new lover. By then, though, the story has clunked over too many
unbelievable plot points for it to feel like it matters. It's hard
to care about someone that the filmmakers don't even care about.
The Good Girl has a few funny moments, mostly
thanks to the Christian security guard White plays, but they don't
save the movie from being as dull as a Lutheran sermon. It makes
a sort of a bizarre form of overacting out of its fetish with boredom.
We would have gotten the point if they were a little more animated.
Yes, movie characters should be exaggerated, but here's a little
tip for those of you ready to start a low budget project: exaggerate
the interesting stuff.
There's this annoying trend in low-budget movies
to make protagonists passive and featureless. Then they surround
them with wacky jokesters who tell the jokes and do the crazy shit.
Why don't the arthouse jerks ever make movies about people who start
out interesting? Aniston is dull, and she overplays it and looks
like a zombie beauty queen. She tries too hard to play against type
that she ends up being a blank slate and there's nothing to do but
stare at her and notice how hard she's trying not to look like a
glamorous, rich celebrity. Wow, what a daring turn, having frumpy
hair like that!
Glylenhall is a little better. At least he gets
to get drunk and cry. Really, though, White and Director Miguel
Arteta don't give us any reason to feel sympathy, or enough charm
to make him a believable Romeo?
Arteta and White are trying to prod us by whacking
us over the head with a really heavy stick. They're so fucking pleased
with themselves that they refuse to let the characters breathe.
They are all flat and pigeonholed into indie-film stereotypes. White
writes funny, smart dialog, but he has yet to marry it to a plot
that doesn't suck dirty ass. He knows where everyone will end up
and what jokes he wants to tell, and he treats the 90 minutes between
introductions and the conclusion shoddy with implausibilities and
contrivances. Would Aniston really cheat on her husband with this
kid? I doubt it. By the end, after all the shit, would she really
be torn between him and her husband? Nah. Would she tell so many
lies to protect an obviously insane kid or try to kill him to get
free? No fucking way.
But, I guess you can get away with that shit when
you want to make fun of the suburbs. After all, if we weren't here,
what the hell would the cool kids have to make fun of? Two Fingers
for The Good Girl. Hey White and Arteta, you get to make
movies, at least pretend to enjoy it.
to tell Filthy Something?