Good Dick

Good Dick


Reviewed by: Chris

Boy meets girl. They overcome problems. They get together.

Re-write. Girl meets boy. She has lots of interesting problems. He’s boring but has a lovely haircut.

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Good Dick is not a porn film and it has no explicit nudity, though it does have very adult themes. Neither is it a detective story. It is a very off-beat indie film that brazenly challenges audiences.

It starts off as comedy, good-naturedly offsetting its none-too-believable premises:-

i) A girl walks into a video store. She avoids both mainstream and arthouse films, going on to rent the sort of erotica most people wouldn’t admit to.

ii) The video clerk filches her personal details from the records. He arrives on her doorstep, and repeatedly and rather pushily tries to date her.

iii) A convenient gap in the blinds even lets him watch her masturbating (before he tries to nicely date her).

If all this sounds alien and abhorrent, please be aware that the location is Los Angeles. City of the weird, the dispossessed. Where fucked-up is normal and everyone is a freak. At least in the movies.

We never learn the names of the two protagonists. A large part of the film is him trying to wheedle and lie his way into her affections. She responds with little gestures like, “You’re so whiney, needy and annoying.” Or, “You’re a piece of shit excuse for a person.” Or physical affronts. Till he submits to her 100 per cent, bringing out the rather unfunny sadist in her.

We are expected to believe he is a good guy. A respectable, lying sick puppy, if you like. Though some will see him in much nicer light. The director and actor tell me he espouses ‘good Christian values’. But he doesn’t really have a place to stay. He lies to his mates. And so the power of love has to heal everything - both her flaws and his.

If, at this point, you’re thinking I wasn’t awfully impressed, I have to insist that there are an awful lot of things with which I was indeed impressed. Marianna Palka’s acting for starters. To take such a complex yet superficially whacked out character and turn her into a full-blooded person who we can (to some extent) both believe in and care about is no mean achievement. The film’s highly emotional dénouement is a shattering blow. Any shred of disbelief dissolves. Secondly, the gutsiness of the script. She turns on him physically as well as verbally. Yet there is no lack of subtlety. And the psychological profiling is intense as well as convincing. Thirdly, you may well be shocked that such a polished movie can be made so effectively for what is obviously a miniscule budget.

For any viewer, your enjoyment will turn on whether the good outweighs the bad. The downside for me started with the woman addicted to bad porn, and getting it quite openly. Yet that was conceivable, even if slightly unlikely by non-L.A. standards. My main objection was that I lost enjoyment in it after the first half hour. I found the male character quite obnoxious and sanctimonious. Good Dick is a bad example of Good Samaritan, kindly handing her his patience, his suffering and his little golden crucifix. What just about kept me going was Palka’s endless inventiveness in coming up with one shocking and confrontational scene after another. Watching it is definitely an experience, but a bit like listening to someone exorcise their personal demons. Eventually I felt as worn down as the hapless pretty-boy nerd that rescues her from a life of handling video porn, freezer bags on her hands. Shocking yet saccharine, Good Dick rejects the usual stereotyping while all the while neatly slipping in to a predictable sex-and-psychosis romance.

Reviewed on: 01 Dec 2008
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Good Dick packshot
Offbeat romance between a damaged young woman and with Marianna Palka and Jason Ritter.
Amazon link

Read more Good Dick reviews:

Amber Wilkinson ****
Darren Amner ***

Director: Marianna Palka

Starring: Marianna Palka, Jason Ritter, Eric Edelstein, Mark Webber, Martin Starr, Charles Durning, Tom Arnold, Jesse Garcia, Katherine Waterston, Elisabeth Waterston

Year: 2008

Runtime: 85 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US

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