The Good Girl
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There comes a time in everyone’s life when we wake up to discover that things aren’t going as we’d planned. Maybe our dream job turned out to be a nightmare. Maybe our Prince Charming turned out to be Prince Belching-and-Farting. For Justine (Jennifer Aniston), it’s both. Her husband, Phil (John C. Reilly), spends his free time stoned on the couch, watching TV with his friend, Bubba (Tim Blake Nelson). And she spends her days working the register at the local discount department store. She’s a good wife, a good friend…a good girl—but she’s bored with her life, and she’s looking for an escape.

That escape comes in the form of her moody new coworker, a loner kid (Jake Gyllenhaal) who calls himself Holden, after the character in The Catcher in the Rye. Their shared hatred of their lives and the people around them cause Justine and Holden to become friends—and eventually leads them to the local sleazy motel.

  
 
Justine then begins to realize that she’s no longer a good friend or a good wife…or a good girl. And as she starts to back off, Holden starts to put more and more pressure on her to run away with him.

In theory, The Good Girl is a good movie. Aniston’s performance as Justine is excellent. And the story—all about facing, making, and dealing with the tough decisions in life—is compelling. The filmmaking is simple and straightforward. But there were also a couple of not-too-good things about the movie, and I had a hard time getting beyond them.

First, let’s have a show of hands here. How many of you can picture Jennifer Aniston as a poor Southern girl, married to an overweight blue-collar stoner? Anyone? Because it didn’t work for me. If you ask me, it’s about as easy to believe as Meg Ryan playing a serial killer.

My second problem, however, was a more critical issue—so critical, in fact, that my husband couldn’t take it anymore, so he left the room halfway through the movie. The problem is Holden. I don’t think I blame Jake Gyllenhaal for the problem (I also don’t blame him for looking a little too much like a cheap knockoff of Tobey Maguire). I suppose I blame the writer for creating the character, who could actually be the most annoying film character since Jar-Jar Binks in Star Wars: Episode I. Holden is self-centered and childish and whiny and filled with the dark teen angst that went out of style in the mid-nineties. Even Justine finds him annoying. She tries to get his parents to have him committed. Then she considers killing him just to get him out of her hair—right before mysteriously changing her mind and contemplating running off and spending the rest of her life with him. Does that make sense to you? Maybe it’s just me, but I wouldn’t think that running off with someone who annoys me almost to the point of homicide would be a good way to make my life happier.

So because of its painfully annoying leading character and its occasionally unbelievable storyline, I’m afraid that I was forced to conclude that The Good Girl isn’t such a Good Movie after all.

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