Written and directed by Julio DePietro, The Good Guy has originality on its side — a different, interesting cant than most films of its ilk — but it can’t quite turn that positive into a deal-closing recommendation. A sort of much more polite, estrogenized filmic companion piece to a lost, mid-era Bret Easton Ellis novel, the Manhattan-set movie grabs your attention in unusual ways scene to scene, and then slowly squanders almost all that forward-leaning intrigue.
The film opens on the rainy-night dissolution of a twentysomething relationship, then flashes back six weeks earlier to a few of its key pivot points. Tommy (Scott Porter, above left) is a sexy, young Wall Street hotshot — the supervising manager of a financial crew who make mad, Boiler Room-type chatter and toss a little hacky-sack back and forth to indicate when they’ve done something good, and worthy of impressing their main boss Cash (Andrew McCarthy). Tommy’s been seeing demure urban conservationist Beth (Alexis Bledel) for several weeks, and they finally get around to sealing the deal. But just as everything seems to be falling into place, complications arise in the form of Tommy’s sensitive and handsome new hire, Daniel (Bryan Greenberg), an ex-soldier computer whiz who comes across as so unassuming and non-threatening that Beth invites him to her all-girl book club. Daniel’s burgeoning feelings for Beth complicate matters for all involved.
A romantic dramedy with a certain amount of insight into alpha-male behavior, The Good Guy has the nominal advantage of a hidden authorial perspective, and some nice, if rounded and smooth, lead performances. Nonetheless, it feels a bit too generalized. It lacks clarifying detail and the messy stamp of definitive personality, especially in the case of Daniel, who’s basically more a bundle of warm-and-fuzzy, Mom-approved traits than an actual character. DiPietro also overplays his hand with a plot strand that finds Tommy, feeling pressure from Cash, becoming Daniel’s “man coach,” transforming him with clothes and plying him with drink and drugs. The film’s occupational backdrop is also problematic, unfolding as it does against a den of willfully abstruse masculine chatter, in which guys demonstratively point with one telephone while talking on another. In the current economic climate, who wants to spend time with jack-offs like this, and see them win, or even get close. Not this guy… (Roadside Attractions, R, 91 minutes)