Saturday, July 16, 2011

Movie Review: Nice Guy Johnny

I think the whole world right now is completely caught up in Pottermania. As a fan of the movies (I haven't read the books because I can't read a book then see a movie and enjoy it, but I plan to start reading soon), I would be lying if I said I wasn't extremely sad about the ending of the franchise. For 10 years I've had movies to look forward to and have grown up right alongside all the kids. And as I watched the final frames of the movie, thinking about the characters' journeys and their eventual end into a normal happy life, it's hard to imagine it all being over and what to do with your time afterwards. It's almost like when LOST ended, there's a void left. What fun fantasy movie will I look forward to now? I have been watching clips that Apple has been putting up on the trailers portion of their website. Don't watch the one entitled "It All Ends" unless you WANT to cry like a baby.

"Harry Potter is about doing what is right in the face of adversity. Twilight is about how important it is to have a boyfriend." - Stephen King

But you know what, this entry is not about my undying love for three British wizards. It's about the latest Ed Burns (the king of the NY independent movie) flick, Nice Guy Johnny.

I really like Edward Burns. He's probably one of my favorite writer-directors. As an actor, I think he's a little limited and I feel like most of the movies I've seen him in he's played the characters the same way. But as a storyteller, he is adept at telling the tale of how a young man grows up (and 99.9% of the time because of a girl). Nice Guy Johnny isn't any different, although this time Burns does not play the lead but the smarmy uncle. Johnny, played by Matt Bush, has a career he loves, a fiance he'd do anything for, and a choice to make. Keep his job in San Francisco even though it doesn't pay much or accept a cushy job set up by soon to be father-in-law back home in New York to make his fiance happy.

The film centers on the job "interview" weekend as Johnny spends time with his uncle in the Hamptons (the hot summer beach spot on Long Island) and tries to decide whether or not to take the job. But after he meets a free spirited tennis instructor, Johnny starts to question more than just the job. He's spent so much time making everyone else happy that he's forgotten to focus on himself. And the decision ends up really being about his life, the direction he's going in, and trying to figure out what he wants and what will make him happy.

Well acted and well shot, you feel like you have been transported to this other world, something very different from your own and from Johnny's. He's essentially in limbo, trying to figure out whether to go on to paradise or to a life that would be quite the opposite. For anyone who's ever had to make that choice, and knows how hard it is (which is probably just about all of us), I highly recommend this movie.

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