This week:
The Good Girl

Filthy says:
"It's pretty fucking boring."

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 human beings.

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.

Want to tell Filthy Something?

Filthy's Reading
Mark Twain - The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Listening to
Ted Hawkins - The Next Hundred Years

Citizen Ruth

Earl Dittman is on a tear

One Hour Photo "Deserves to be on everyone's top ten list as one of the best films of 2002... One Hour Photo is entitled to every Academy Award it qualifies for... it will gnaw at your psyche and haunt your very soul."

Spy Kids 2 is "Hysterically funny and wildly entertaining. A thrill-a-minute spy adventure."

Undisptued is "Electrifying! Jaw-dropping! It will knock you out of your seat!"


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