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The Good Girl

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: The Good Girl

Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Jake Gyllenhaal
Director: Miguel Arteta
Rated: R
RunTime: 94 Minutes
Release Date: August 2002
Genres: Comedy, Romance

*Also starring: John C. Reilly, Tim Blake Nelson

Review by Susan Granger
3 stars out of 4

Jennifer Aniston transforms herself from "Friends" Rachel Green into an unhappy adulteress in this working-class drama. She's 30 year-old Justine, a frustrated, small-town Texas woman who longs to have a child with her house-painter husband (John C. Reilly) who spends his evenings, stoned, in front of TV with his buddy Bubba (Tim Buddy Nelson). "I used to lie in bed and imagine other lives," she muses. "Now I don't even know what to imagine anymore." Justine finds a soul-mate in 22 year-old "Holden" (Jake Gyllenhaal), a co-worker at the Retail Rodeo - even though she totally misses the point when he tells her he was named after the protagonist in J. D. Salinger's "The Catcher in the Rye." But when their storage room/motel dalliance moves from liberation to obsession, she finds herself ensnared in a chaotic web of blackmail and larceny. As Justine observes, "Sometimes you have to make a few pit-stops on the road to redemption."

Screenwriter Mike White and director Miguel Arleta, who did "Chuck and Buck," overcome the complete predictability of the plot with their sardonic insight and compassion for the multi-dimensional characters, along with the ensemble strong performances. Successfully making the stretch from her hip, glam TV image, Ms. Aniston embodies the emotionally exhausted cosmetics clerk who is weighted down by dullness, drudgery and desperation, while Jake Gyllenhaal is convincing as the sensitive but seriously disturbed wannabe writer. Zooey Deschanel scores as the store's bad-girl with John Carroll Lynch as the officious discount-mart manager. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "The Good Girl" is a darkly comic, down-to-earth 7, proving that sometimes people just feel the need to escape.

Copyright 2002 Susan Granger

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