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Overall Rating

Awesome: 20.83%
Worth A Look37.5%
Just Average: 27.08%
Pretty Crappy: 6.25%
Sucks: 8.33%

2 reviews, 36 user ratings

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Good Girl, The
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by Natasha Theobald

4 stars

Sometimes it's really hard to be the good girl, to do the right things and make good choices. Being a good girl has a lot to do with keeping everyone else happy, but where is the space in that for happiness of one's own? Good girls can easily be trapped in situations by their best intentions. Good girls sometimes look back at their whole life as a compromise. When is it O.K. to stop trying so hard to be what everyone else thinks you should be?

Justine (Jennifer Aniston) is thirty years old and is taking a look back at her life of compromise. She didn't go to college, because she didn't want to lose her boyfriend. She married young and got a job at the Retail Rodeo. She comes home to her pothead husband (John C. Reilly) and his odd friend (Tim Blake Nelson) day after day, and day after day they are sitting there in front of the T.V., letting life slip numbly by. She has nothing to spark passion in her. She doesn't remember what it's like to have a dream. She thought she wanted to have a baby, but that hasn't been coming together either. Justine is depressed, and she is looking for someone who might understand.

Then, Holden (Jake Gyllenhaal) begins working at the Rodeo. He is a disaffected youth who left a college life of alcohol and partying to find himself as a writer. He lives at home under the watchful eye of his parents. He, too, is depressed, but to a possibly more serious degree. Justine recognizes something in him that she knows to be true about her. She is drawn to him, and he reciprocates to a greater degree, encouraging her to begin an affair with him, to love him and leave her husband.

This one choice leads Justine down a path of certain compromise. She is still trapped in a life she didn't plan, but there is no longer any control to be had over events and consequences. The good girl has gone astray, and she has to finally figure out what it is that she wants and needs.

All of this sounds fairly dramatic, and, though there are dramatic elements, the whole thing is played with a tragicomic tone. The movie doesn't make fun of its characters, necessarily, but there is a definite eye to the absurdity of the situations and the comedy inherent in that. The characters tend to be wry and a touch cynical. Their desperation is tinged with humor.

Jennifer Aniston is really good in this role. After the first five minutes, you forget her magazine covers and movie star life and see Justine. She embodies the character with a sense of realism. Justine is depressed, but Aniston handles her with a light touch. And, she is able to do the funny bits in a way that is nothing like what she does on T.V. I was really quite taken with her performance.

Jake Gyllenhaal seems to specialize in the seduction of older-than-him women in films these days. He gives Holden a palpable angst, always making the audience wonder what the character might be capable of doing. He truly feels for Justine, it seems, but he is also using her as a way out of his own misery. He tries to manipulate her into following the plan in his mind, but, like a young, somewhat self-absorbed person, he never sees what she has to face. He never truly understands her dilemma, because he is willing and able to drop everything, leave it all behind. He is sensitive and malcontent, but he is fortunate to not share her constraints, to not care about what he must or should do. He is not controlled by anyone's expectations but his own.

The supporting cast is absolutely superb, as well. Zooey Deschanel plays an acerbic, ornery, witty employee of the Retail Rodeo. She is funny and fresh in the part, as usual, and it is always a pleasure to see her. Hopefully, some talented writer can find a way to tap into her voice and create a lead character worthy of her. Tim Blake Nelson also is on hand with a bold and bravely naked performance full of a certain sleazy charm as Bubba. John C. Reilly plays Justine's husband, Phil, and in many ways he adds emotional resonance to the story. The character has his problems, but Reilly is able to give him enough heart and humanity that we cannot easily root for Justine to leave him. Phil may be a little naive and mostly disconnected from his wife, but, in the end, he swallows what he must and seems to take the twists and turns of life as they come.

Once you get past the well-known faces and the odd-sounding accents, the story is absorbing and satisfying. There are some good laughs and nice dramatic moments, and the overall effect might stick with you for a while. It has certainly stuck with me.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=6021&reviewer=317
originally posted: 01/22/03 23:06:50
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User Comments

11/12/09 Someone there are some major perverts who like this movie. 0.o 4 stars
4/25/08 mb Interesting character but poor story. 2 stars
7/30/07 ravenmad I loved this movie: sweet, strange and pure. 5 stars
3/25/06 GWM jake forget ledger just spread my legs and ram your hot nine-incher into my wide open pussy 5 stars
8/26/05 ES She just can't land a good movie can she 2 stars
2/06/05 R.W. Welch Life gets complicated at Retail Rodeo. Quirky comdram with good cast & writing. 4 stars
1/28/05 blueviolet This was such a depressing movie. 3 stars
3/28/04 The More You Know Everyone in this movie is all f***ed up and f***s everyone else...who cares?! 3 stars
12/30/03 Chlo Gyllenhaal Justine is such an idiot - Holden is so gorgeous 5 stars
9/29/03 Diana it was good, I kept watching it, didn't like the ending 4 stars
9/26/03 Chlo (Mrs. Jake Gyllenhaal) This was mad! Jake's hot strong, muscly arms..... 5 stars
9/01/03 Jim Aniston channels Kidman from "To Die For" 4 stars
6/16/03 MF Would rather eat razor blades then see it again... 1 stars
5/28/03 Pussy Lips I like to pee. I would like to piss on the jerkoff who did a fucking book report on this 1 stars
5/18/03 Smoogles Sad and depressing 4 stars
5/17/03 Jady Don't miss this movie 4 stars
4/17/03 Shadaan Felfeli Quite depressing . Thank god for the sensible casting. 3 stars
3/29/03 mara z. sad/interesting characters, but ruined by over-acting. not as good as the hype. 3 stars
3/01/03 karen excellent movie! aniston is surprisingly great, and jake always rocks. 5 stars
2/16/03 Phil M. Aficionado I have a complex reaction to this; it is not "memorable" but it is good has insights. 4 stars
1/17/03 LF this movie sucks, dont waste your time on it. 1 stars
11/20/02 Reini Urban I've seen a lot but this is my favorite movie in this genre 5 stars
11/05/02 Vickie Fascinating 5 stars
10/18/02 Linda Gallagher one of the most subtle movies I've ever seen. Truly beautiful, Mike White is amazing. 5 stars
9/28/02 john smith excellent show ... tender, well acted and touching 5 stars
9/25/02 marco guerra better than most but not as good as people think. 3 stars
9/09/02 .Choadushouse. Intensely & sadly realistic. Great performances. A movie you can really feel. 4 stars
9/08/02 Suzz What comedy? Depressing stuff of the we all lead lives of quiet desperation ilk. 2 stars
9/03/02 Sham Sundar The plot was horribly predictable. I honestly believe that Jerry Springer wrote this movie. 1 stars
9/02/02 Erica Pretty Good. 4 stars
8/28/02 Jake Very entertaining and real 4 stars
8/28/02 wintermute Only the occasioanl joke made the plod through this average film bearable. 3 stars
8/26/02 Christopher Very well done. 4 stars
8/11/02 nim hh 5 stars
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  07-Aug-2002 (R)



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