THE GOOD GUY is reasonably entertaining, even if the entertainment is more akin to the one we derive from watching sitcoms on TV rather than to the one we should derive from watching a solid cinematic drama. Unfortunately, the film is hindered by two significant problems: 1) The "secret" that the title is supposed to conceal is completely obvious within the film's first half hour, and 2) The movie has a disastrously weak resolution. This second point will be discussed more thoroughly in the "spoilers" section.
The film uses the bookend method, which means that, at the very beginning, we see the film's climactic scene, and then suddenly we move back in time. Tommy (Scott Porter) is out in the pouring rain with no money, and he's begging his girlfriend Beth (Alexis Bledel) to let him in. It turns out that Beth is in the apartment with Daniel (Bryan Greenberg), and all she does is come to the door, give Tommy some cash, say "I feel sorry for you, Tommy," and then go back upstairs and leave him outside. The film then moves back a few months in time, and we see Beth and Tommy in an ostensibly happy relationship. We also discover that Tommy is one of those stereotypical hot shot Wall Street guys, and that Daniel is a low-tier employee at Tommy's workplace.
After watching THE GOOD GUY, I decided to listen to the commentary and I realized what had gone wrong with this film. The director intended for the movie to surprise audiences by having "the good guy" at the end NOT be the person that you expected. The problem is that the identity of "the good guy" and "the bad guy" is ONLY a mystery during those first few minutes in which we see the climactic scene. Less than half an hour after that, it's completely clear that Tommy is a smug asshole and that Daniel is an innocent, thoroughly sweet guy. As entertaining as the movie is, the mystery element is completely absent. If the failed attempt at being surprising were THE GOOD GUY's only problem, I would still give the film a recommendation. Sadly, the film's resolution is shockingly rushed and unearned, as I'll discuss now...
We've seen plenty of movies in which the girl dumps the bad guy at the end in order to stay with the good guy... what we RARELY see is a movie in which that transition happens so suddenly. At the end of THE GOOD GUY, we understand why Beth no longer wants to be with Tommy. He's done enough terrible things for us to want her to dump him and move on with her life, maybe even take that job offer she got in San Francisco and leave the city. The problem is that the film believes that THAT ALONE is enough for us to believe that Beth just magically switches to being in love with Daniel. This is a movie that has a mostly honest handle on romantic dynamics, but it deviates from that COMPLETELY at the end when it suddenly adopts the shallow belief that someone can just transition from being in love with one person to being in love with another one. There hadn't been enough development between Beth and Daniel for the film to earn this. We understand perfectly that she chooses not to be with Tommy anymore, but the fact that that means that she AUTOMATICALLY switches to being with Daniel is outrageous. Who in their right mind thinks that relationships are that simple?
Scott Porter was cast not so much because of his acting talent, but because, in physical terms, he perfectly resembles the character of Tommy (read: he looks like a douche). He looks so much like a standard "pretty boy" that it's almost sickening. He had a smaller role in last year's BANDSLAM, which I enjoyed, and I can now appreciate more easily the fact that his role in that movie was so small. Porter pretty much smirks his way through THE GOOD GUY. I don't have a problem with the fact that he plays an asshole; I have a problem with the fact that his portrayal of an asshole is unrealistic. The far more handsome, manlier Bryan Greenberg fares much better; if he were cast into better movies, I totally believe that he'd be a wonderful "dramedic" actor. Alexis Bledel has the problem that she probably won't be taken seriously by a lot of people who will watch the film who won't be able to separate her work here from her TV endeavors. I have a philosophy of not letting what I thought of an actor's work in an earlier project affect what I think of their work in the movie that I'm currently assessing (if a comparison to an earlier performance is appropriate, then I'll make it in the review, but if not, then no). All in all, Bledel gives the easiest to believe performance in the film. Beth feels like much less of a stock character than Daniel or Tommy. Of course, that probably has something to do with the fact that the film tries so hard to have the two guys fall into the "good" and "bad" stereotype, which means that Bledel is able to portray a character who is neither perfect nor too flawed, thus making her someone we can relate to much more. I wish that the film's resolution were as authentic as her character, but sadly, its unnecessary focus on the "good guy/bad guy" dichotomy prevents it from accomplishing that.