Thank you Netflix. You allowed me to save money on my cable bill and enabled a reigniting of my first love – watching films.
Below are some thoughts on Double Feature weekends. Most will be odd amalgams as my wife and I have different tastes; I am a genre geek. She is decidedly not.
I can’t believe for all of my professed love of Albert Brooks that I had never seen “Lost in America” before last night. While it does not reache the greatness that he attained with “Defending Your Life” it is a hilarious film, well worth watching if you have never seen it.
Brooks plays David Howard, and ad exec who gets fired from his job. David believes that he was ripped off of a promotion, and completely loses it.
Instead of jumping back into the pool of injustice he decides that he and his wife Linda should liquidate all of their assets and remove themselves from society.
Your enjoyment of the film is completely dependent on if you find Albert Brooks funny. I think he is a comic genius. Julie Hagerty plays his wife Linda and has a couple of inspired scenes.
The parts are greater than the sum, but in those great moments you see flashes of brilliance that led to “Defending Your Life”. The phone scene where he is negotiating the purchase of a Mercedes had me thinking of his character Daniel Miller buying a BMW in “Defending Your Life”. I swear I will not mention the film again. (in this post)
I can easily recommend “Lost in America” for anyone who feels they have gotten the wrong end of a deal at work. Perhaps you can benefit from the lessons that David Howard had to learn the hard way in the film. One thing is for sure, I will never bet on 22.
“Lost in America” is available on Netflix streaming
In the mid-90s there were a few low budget independent films that were all the rage with college students, “Clerks” was chief among them. While I enjoyed Kevin Smith’s pithy ode to service people everywhere it was not my favorite.
I always opted more for Ed Burns “The Brothers McMullen”. While it does not have the rabid following that Smith’s film still has I always thought it was the better written and made film. Some of that definitely had to do with the storyline. It is about three brothers and their trials and tribulations in love.
“She’s the One” followed and covered similar ground with Mike McGlone (the Geico guy) once again playing Burns’ younger brother. Both films were successful in spite of the wooden female lead played by model Maxine Bahns. From there Burns lost me. Every now and again hitting a note that I liked (“The Groomsman”), but more often than not leaving me feeling cold and wondering where he went wrong. Like many relationships in life we drifted away.
“Nice Guy Johnny” popped up as a suggestion by Netflix after I added “She’s the One” to my Instant Queue. After enjoying a film by one of my other favorites I decided to roll the bones on “Nice Guy Johnny”. I am sad to report that while there were faint echoes of why I loved him when, there were not enough to make me feel good about the film.
Everything that happens in the film feels inevitable.
Johnny, Nice Guy is just too good to be true. And his fiancee is such a bitch it is hard to imagine why Johnny would be with her. She reminded me of Rosie Perez’s character in “It Could Happen to You”, another film where another too good to be true nice guy is saddled with a raging hurricane of bitchiness.
There is some dialogue that is meant to explain why Johnny is with her, but it never rings true. Johnny just ends up looking like a schmuck rather than a nice guy and that hurts the character as well as the film.
The film was made on the cheap, 25 grand, but that does not show on the screen. The film looks good, but is ultimately undone by the on-the nose script. While I never would have guessed that the film was that inexpensive production value wise it does reveal itself in other ways.
- The acting ranges from competent to brutal. Matt Bush tries his best as Johnny but there are too many thrown away lines. It is easy to see why he was cast as JD’s son on Scrubs. He plays Johnny as a wishy washy amalgam of J.D. Dorian and Daniel Larusso. Anna Wood never plays Claire as anything but a manipulative bitch. She may have been playing the script, but there was no nuance.
- The editing is off. There is a strange sequence at the end where Claire is mad at Johnny and leaves a nasty message for him. They sped up footage of Johnny traveling with the romantic interest in her car with him smiling. It seemed an odd choice when I watched it and did not match anything he does immediately after. At least considering the budget it all makes some sense.
Still I cannot be mad at Ed. While I cannot see myself watching “Nice Guy Johnny” again, I am glad I gave it a chance. Like a band that I have outgrown but have to listen to the latest album I will always be there for Burns. I just hope he hits that McMullen sweet spot again. I would settle for Groomsman level Burns.
Not recommended, watch one of his first two films.
“Nice Guy Johnny” is available on Netflix streaming.