The Good Girl (2002)

Genres - Comedy Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Stoner Comedy, Workplace Comedy, Romantic Comedy  |   Release Date - Aug 7, 2002 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 93 min.  |   Countries - Germany , Netherlands , United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Director Miguel Arteta and screenwriter/actor Mike White, who collaborated on the supremely discomfiting Chuck & Buck, take a more humane tack in dissecting the trapped, flawed denizens of a suburban Texas town in The Good Girl. Jennifer Aniston (Friends) breaks away from her sitcom persona as Justine, a bored department store cosmetics clerk, ironically described in the title. Aniston delivers a solid, appropriately low-key performance, and she's aided by White's script, which mixes occasional easy laughs with a surprising moral complexity, and by a sterling supporting cast. Standouts include John C. Reilly as Phil, Justine's good-natured but feckless pothead husband, Tim Blake Nelson as Bubba, Phil's best friend, who secretly envies what he perceives as Phil and Justine's "perfect life," and Zooey Deschanel (Almost Famous) as Cheryl, Justine's glumly acerbic coworker. The talented Jake Gyllenhaal (who played a completely different character in a similar situation opposite Catherine Keener in Lovely & Amazing) brings a sweaty intensity to the pivotal role of Holden, Justine's intensely self-involved illicit love interest, a depressed white kid who refers to his given name, Tom, as his "slave name." Justine is the calm center of The Good Girl, and while she's never quite despicable, the film doesn't soft-pedal her selfishness, or the destruction her choices cause to those around her. The film is very funny at times, and it takes some surprising turns, but it's also slow-paced and glum. It's a fine feel-bad comedy.