The Good Girl (2002)

Jennifer Aniston, Jake Gyllenhaal, Deborah Rush, Mike White,
The Good Girl is a movie starring Jennifer Aniston, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Deborah Rush. A discount store clerk strikes up an affair with a stock boy who considers himself the incarnation of Holden Caulfield.
  • 6.3 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Writer:
  • Miguel Arteta, Director:
  • Matthew Greenfield, Producer:

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Trailer:

7 / 10

Downbeat but engaging

Justine works at a supermarket in a small town and is married to her underachieving painter husband. She feels trapped and unable to deal with the stagnant pool that is her life. When a mysteriously dark young man begins to work at the supermarket she gets involved with him as a way out of her normal life into something more exciting. However things get much more exciting that she expected.

Rented by my wife as she searched for something in a sort of comedy/drama. As always she has pretty good judgement and better taste than I give her credit for. I had heard reasonable things about this film but I wasn't sure if it would just be another Friends clone comedy. Happily my fears were not realised and this film is actually quite a brave shot at being a character study rather than another one of her hollow rom-coms. The plot looks at an ordinary woman who is living a life that is far below what she thought she wanted. It is not spectacular but it works well on this level. We see her pursue her supposed dream but only getting sucked into other things that she doesn't want for her life. Not all the drama works as well as others and some twists and scenes are a little too much for such a low-key film.

The film has some laughs in it, but not so many that it hurts the main drama of the film. At times the comedy works well to compliment the main thread but occasionally it is misjudged and threatens to take away from it a bit. The fact that the film is quite down beat and low-key might put some off as it doesn't really set the screen on fire, however what it does do well is develop the character of Justine as you watch the film.

As such the film does rely on the acting and the majority of it is very good. As much as I dislike her performance in Friends (and thus every repeat she's done in the films), Aniston does very well here and her Justine is as far from her Rachael as is needed. Likewise her character is as far from any life she has ever lived, but she brings it to life and does develop well while still keeping it down to earth and relatable. Reilly and Nelson have good roles that get better as the film goes on and they give good performances. Nelson has the harder job of keeping his character within some sort of relatable reality and he does it well. Gyllenhaal's character is harder to get and is not treated as well by the film, but in essence he is the driver for Justine's journey and is developed well enough to do that. He plays him well and, with Donnie Darko, is in danger of only getting the `weirdo kid' roles.

Overall this is a good film that is maybe too downbeat and understated to be really called enjoyable. It is good to see a Hollywood star make a film that is driven by her character and she rises to the challenge and gives a performance that, although not earth shattering, is certainly better than all the stuff she's been doing of late.

7 / 10

thoughtful slice of life

Years ago I had a conversation with some young guy who worked on the loading docks. He was frustrated by his life, felt inarticulate and incapable of escaping his plight or of really doing anything with his life. He had the wish but not the talent to express himself through art and felt he had nothing to look forward to. I thought of him while watching The Good Girl, a movie about a very ordinary person trapped in a hum drum existence.

I've noticed some discussion in these reviews as to whether The Good Girl is a comedy or drama, and I would suggest people stop trying to label the movie. The Good Girl clearly isn't trying to be either, but simply a movie that captures the life of someone who feels trapped, portraying both the drama and comedy inherent in life. It's a small, studied, intelligently written movie that's well worth watching. Don't worry about what it is, just watch it and take it the way you take life, not as a comedy or drama but just as what it is.

10 / 10

Touching, Compelling, Perfectly Ordinary

This movie is great, in my opinion, because its so misunderstood. Its so simple! The dialogue is not heavy, but it is perfectly articulated and emotional, and delivered brilliantly by Jennifer Aniston, who really shines as Justine, a small town girl who wants to get away from the monotony of life. Jake Gyllenhaal's role as a Holden Caulfield wannabe is well pulled off. I particularly liked how depressingly un attractive his drunken dramas were. You could see so many emotions in Justine, trying to ignore what she didn't like about him, trying to find something to love about him. Though my all time favourite aspect of the movie is the painfully realistic awkward sex and kissing. With an extreme but none the less effective ending, I'd easily give this film a biased 9/10! A little slice of real life, for a change.

9 / 10

A fine movie

'The Good Girl' is a sad comedy starring Jennifer Aniston as Justine. She works at Retail Rodeo where she is very unhappy. When she comes home she finds her husband Phil (John C. Reilly) stoned on the couch with his best friend Bubba (Tim Blake Nelson) night after night. It is not very strange she is attracted to Holden (Jake Gyllenhaal) the new kid who comes to work at Retail Rodeo. He is even more depressed than she is, he reads The Catcher in the Rye and has named himself after that book. Soon she starts an affair with him and one night Bubba sees them together. Bubba makes his own little plan.

A thing that surprised me was the great acting. John C. Reilly, who was in every great movie in 2002 (also 'Gangs of New York', 'Chicago' and 'The Hours'), is great as the husband, Jake Gyllenhaal terrific as the disturbed kid and most of all Jennifer Aniston is superb as Justine. Here she everything but Rachel from 'Friends' and that is a very good thing. She is really acting and it is one of the best performances of 2002.

The sad story is very good as well and there is some fine comedy, especially with another worker at Retail Rodeo names Cheryl (Zooey Deschanel). She insults customers all the time and says the strangest things; the customers hardly notice. Funny, sad and very good is what 'The Good Girl' is in the end.

7 / 10

One of the best written pictures of 2002

Mike White, writer of The Good Girl, deserves the most credit here. While there is good direction and good performances all around, the writing tops the lot by getting the audience to feel for the characters and to understand their human nature from start to finish. Plus, there is a even handed amount of humor (sometimes from stoners and sometimes from quirks in the store) to go along with the drama.

And the performances- Jennifer Anniston shows she can actually do something other than Friends and portrays small town Justine with her wants, desperation, disgust, and ultimitely fears. Gyllenhaal is as compelling as her passionately crazy co-worker, self based on The Catcher in the Rye if only to himself; Reilly and Nelson give the best performances of the picture (and should've gotten a little more screen time) as pot head painters with aimless destinies.

The Good Girl is a keen portrayal of small town angst at the never-ending, often monotonous and uninspired/unfortunate basis. One of the better dramedies of the year. A-