"Friends" may be winding down - and in my opinion should have been finished a year or two ago - and the stars of the show are going to need somewhere else to work. With exception to Courtney Cox, all of the "Friends" have primarily stuck to what they know best - slapstick comedy - when it comes to their movie choices. Matthew Perry is the best example, having done movies like Almost Heroes and most recently Serving Sara, and Matt LeBlanc typically plays an idiot just like he does on television. Schwimmer really has only had minor roles, except for one or two romance comedies where he plays a bumbling nerd... sound familiar? Lisa Kudrow has had more success, but still sticks to her annoying quirkiness. And Courtney Cox, though she has veered away from comedy at times, has done nothing more than horror movies. So it is refreshing to see Jennifer Aniston do a movie like The Good Girl, a dark comedy-drama that allows her to display her acting range. It also helps that The Good Girl is a very good movie.
Aniston stars as a lonely grocery store clerk who is severely depressed, but hides it for the most part. She is married to a bumbling idiot (played by a great actor, John C. Reilly) who paints houses for a living, and really wants a child, though it seems that one of them is infertile. However, when she meets the new clerk (Jake Gyllenhaal), a young, right-out-of-college guy who views the world the same way she does, things begin to change, she begins to enjoy herself, and an affair starts. She is having the time of her life, but after a while she realizes that everything has consequences - people are going to find out, she still does, after all, have a husband, and then there's that little matter of getting pregnant...
The Good Girl is witty and hilarious, sort of like American Beauty. It is nowhere near the quality of that classic, but has similar aspects. The main character is depressed, the people all around her are pretty strange, and the comedy is derived from simplicity - things people say wouldn't be all that funny taken out of context, but in the whole scheme of the movie are pretty damn funny. There's the cosmetics girl who got demoted from the PA job, the Bible-thumping security guard, the manic-depressive lover, the idiotic husband, and the forgotten best friend, all of which add to this quaint little world of small-town, Southern United States strangeness.
If the script is good, the acting is fabulous. Out of all of the "Friends," Jennifer Aniston is the most likely to have a steady career. Many critics think that Aniston is not made for sitcom television, but she definitely shows here that she has a place somewhere. Her acting and facial expressions are perfect; I wouldn't be surprised if she won some awards at the end of the year.
Jake Gyllenhaal also turns in a moving performance.
My only problem with the movie is not even the movie's fault, but I have to mention it because it was distracting and it's just plain funny. Either The Good Girl has really bad editing or more likely the projectionist just messed up, but throughout the whole movie, we could see the microphones hanging down from above the characters. I missed the first fifteen minutes of the film because I was laughing so hard (uncontrollably), and they remained on screen for the rest of the movie. It was quite frustrating.
The Good Girl - aside from the microphone problem - is a top notch movie with a good story, great acting, and a funny yet dark script. The ending is a little weak but nothing too bad, and I'd recommend this to anyone who likes a quirky comedy here and there.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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