Wednesday, May 11

The Good Guy

Will You Know When You Meet Him?
Ambitious young Manhattanite and urban conservationist Beth (Alexis Bledel) wants it all: a good job, good friends, and a good guy to share the city with. Of course that last one is often the trickiest of all. Beth falls hard for Tommy (Scott Porter), a sexy, young Wall Street hot-shot. But just as everything seems to be falling into place, complications arise in the form of Tommy's sensitive and handsome co-worker Daniel. Beth soon learns that the game of love in the big city is a lot like Wall Street -- high risk, high reward and everybody has an angle.

This is sort of a retro review in the sense that this film was released in the US early last year, but I only heard of it about, hmm, 10 minutes before I watched it. So lets pretend this is a new and exciting film.

This is one of those films filled with actors who look really familiar but you just can't quite place (until, like, 2am a few weeks later), so to save you the 2am revelations let me fill you in; It stars Alexis Bledel who you may recognise from The Gilmore Girls (which comes on E4 late morning and late afternoon) or perhaps you may know her as Becky the blue eyed prostitute in Sin City. It also stars Byan Greenberg as Daniel, personally I think he looks like he could play Jake Gyllenhaal's brother in something, alas he hasn't (yet), but he did play that guy with the baby in One Tree Hill and Uma Thurman's younger boyfriend in Prime. The film also stars Andrew McCarthy as a sleazy Wall Street boss, but you may know him as the guy Andie picked over Duckie (and other brat pack films) and finally my personal favourite 'I know that face' person is Anna Chlumsky possibly still best known as Vada Sultenfuss in My Girl.

Now, there are a few actresses that I really like whose films I will watch regardless of how awful the film is, or has the potential to be, Alexis Bledel is one of them (funnily enough I'm not as tolerant when it comes to actors I love), the list also includes Drew Barrymore, Sandra Bullock, Mandy Moore and Lauren Graham (also known as Alexis' mum in Gilmore Girls). The older 'Gilmore Girl' (Graham, as well as Mandy Moore, Piper Perabo, Gabriel Macht...) is why I refuse to listen to anyone who tells me that Because I Said So is a terrible film. The younger, Bledel, is the reason I have sat through a couple of awful films of late: Post Grad and I'm Reed Fish. Thankfully, as they say 'third time lucky', I actually quite enjoyed The Good Guy.

(continues after the jump - a bit spoilery)

As you would imagine The Good Guy really plays up to that age old dating dilemma of trying to find 'the good guy' amongst the, well, not so good guys - the prince after all the frogs. if you will. The film perfectly shows how you can be deceived in a relationship to believe that your partner is finally 'the good one', until it's too late. This is exactly what the film does as it opens with the end of the story, the viewers first thought being that Tommy (Scott Porter) is 'The Good Guy' suggested in the title and Daniel (Bryan Greenberg) being set up to be the not so good guy. This continues with one typical Romantic Comedy act of romance after another; Tommy himself hinting that he's the one who is bound to be heartbroken - until about halfway through the film, when we realise that we too have been sucked into Tommy's nice guy act. becoming aware that he's not as nice as he seems and perhaps Daniel is as nice he seems.

The film tells us that Beth (Alexis Bledel) and Tommy are typical New Yorkers trying to date in notoriously 'undateable' New York City (or so Sex and the City and every New York based TV show/film would lead us to believe). But wait the cliché's don't end there. Tommy is your typical Wall Street type - suave, a little bit arrogant and talks very fast. In fact his entire office is filled with run-of-the-mill alpha-male, cocky stock broker types who also talk very fast, that is except for sensitive 'army computer geek' Daniel (Bryan Greenberg).

Beth and her friends don't escape the 'typical stereotyping' either; Beth is an ambitious career woman (something to do with conservation) with a pressing decision to make about the aforementioned career. Beth also attends a book club with her Rom-Com cliché friends - the sassy 'ethnic' friend, in this case Jordan (Jessalyn Wanlim) who is Chinese  and the ditsy and awkward in love Lisa (played by Anna Chlumsky) (this pairing can also be seen in Rom-Com's such as How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Clueless, Never Been Kissed, She's The Man... to name but a few) Essentially, what I'm trying to say is this film is incredibly cliché ridden, or at least it is at first glance.

What makes The Good Guy not your typical Rom-Com (or simply makes it not a Rom-Com at all) is that it actually isn't told from Beth's point of view - trying to 'work her way through her love life'  - it's mostly about Tommy, the Wall Street guy trying to be a good person, whilst also being good at his job and Daniel the 'socially-awkward' guy trying to be good at his job, whilst also remaining a good person. (Yeah, you see what I did there?).

One of the things I liked were the subtle hints that were dropped at the beginning suggesting the course of the story. For example and without giving too much away; The book club read The Good Soldier by Ford Maddox Ford - about an 'ex soldier and seemingly perfect gentleman. He was just the sort of man you could trust your wife with' a little foreshadowing there perhaps? Secondly, whenever Tommy is due to meet Beth he's either late or on his way from somewhere we later find out isn't his apartment.

Despite enjoying the film there were a couple of negatives for me, the first one being that Beth's ex-boyfriend who, from what I can gather, was already married gets mentioned in passing quite a lot, but is never quite explained for one to fully understand the situation. Secondly, there are also a couple of scenes of Tommy and Daniel working. Now I'm assuming those were in there to show that they are proper stockbrokers who are really ruthless and great at their jobs, but as someone with zero knowledge of the stock market or the lingo (apologies to my previous university finance and business lecturers) all I got from those scenes was that they were talking very fast and swearing a bit.

During the film Beth complains that half-way through reading The Good Soldier she realised that the narrator isn't as reliable or truthful as she believes, wondering what the point of that is. Daniel tells her:

"Maybe it's just like real life. Sometimes people just aren't who you thought they were."

And that is essentially what The Good Guy is about, and ultimately why I liked it. The film itself isn't what it seems at first, which is a typical boy-meets girl Rom-Com. Although at face value it's about relationships, it's also about trusting your own judgement, making mistakes and either carrying on as you were, blindly or moving on and learning from all that has happened.

(all images via IMDB)



  1. Once you told me that it was the girl from Gilmore Girls... I didn't need to read the rest of the review. I'll be watching!

  2. Hah, I love that you love her too! I just wish she made more films!


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