The Good Girl (2002)
Critic Consensus: A dark dramedy with exceptional performances from Jennifer Aniston and Jake Gyllenhaal, The Good Girl is a moving and astute look at the passions of two troubled souls in a small town.
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Critic Reviews for The Good Girl
A warmly satisfying comedy about dissatisfied people seeking to escape from the personal prison of their mundane lives in soulless suburbia.
I wish I could say I liked it more, but despite a smattering of priceless moments, The Good Girl gets bogged down in the very narrowness that afflicts Justine.
Once fans recover from the shock, they'll discover that this sitcom actress has the chops to tackle some pretty heavy stuff.
It's soulful and unslick, and that's apparently just what [Aniston] has always needed to grow into a movie career.
An absorbing, slice-of-depression life that touches nerves and rings true.
Audience Reviews for The Good Girl
First they made "Chuck and Buck" (2000). Two years later, screenwriter Mike White and director Miguel Arteta collaborated on "The Good Girl." The highly original and piercing "Chuck and Buck" is by far the better film, but "The Good Girl" has its charms, particularly a beautiful performance from Jake Gyllenhaal as a lonely, mentally unstable college student who calls himself Holden (after the protagonist in "Catcher in the Rye"). Jennifer Aniston, in her first and last interesting film role, plays the main character, a depressed, uneducated store clerk who has an extra-marital affair with Holden that goes awry. She is married to a brainless couch potato played by John C. Reilly. As you'd expect from this filmmaking team, there's much dark humor and deadpan comedy about small-town life. At times the spirit of Todd Solondz is channelled. But nothing really surprising or compelling is ever discovered about the characters, and the comedy grows thin after a half-hour. The actors walk around in a catatonic stupor, going way over the top to dramatize their characters' stagnation and mindlessness. I'm not sure why it's interesting to depict everyone in the heartland as retarded. It certainly bears no relationship to the reality of the heartland, where there is a lot more diversity than that. After a while, it just seemed like easy jokes perpetrated by artists who weren't really challenging themselves. You could think of "Good Girl" as the last mumble-core movie. I'm quite glad that this sub-genre is pretty much dead.
I didn't like it. It was so derivative yet miserable, so cheerless yet faux-introspective. Sometimes there were these departures into fantasy and I didn't know what to think of them.
Jennifer Aniston impresses on this offbeat black comedy. Her low-pitched intensity evokes the seemingly demure Texan who secretly hates her life. The sausage-chain structure of short scenes makes the plot plod towards the end. But laugh-out-loud characters, like a sadistic make-up girl enhance a skillful portrait of a supposedly ordinary life.
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