The Good Guy

Directed by Julio DePietro
Starring Alexis Bledel, Scott Porter, Bryan Greenberg, Anna Chlumsky, Aaron Yoo and Andrew McCarthy

Julio DePietro’s directorial debut The Good Guy is based around a genuinely interesting idea–what happens when a person’s words don’t match up with his or her actions?

Take the movie’s main character, a young Wall Street go-getter named Tommy (
Friday Night Lights‘ Scott Porter) who initially presents himself to the audience in voiceover as a bright, attractive, personable guy with a good job at a top financial firm and a great girlfriend, Beth (played by Alexis Bledel of Gilmore Girls fame). Over the course of the movie’s 90-minute runtime though, DePietro directs the viewer’s attention to the discrepancies between what Tommy says and what he does. For example, while he calls Beth his girlfriend, he doesn’t seem that eager to spend a lot of one-on-one time with her, at least when sex isn’t involved. And even though he claims that his My Fair Lady-esque makeover of a dweeby new co-worker Daniel (Bryan Greenberg) is driven by altruistic reasons, he appears happiest when he’s able to trap the poor guy in humiliating social situations. Just in case you haven’t figured out what’s really going on, the film makes it all blindingly clear in the final fifteen minutes, laying bare Tommy’s true nature in a way that’ll make everyone in the audience shake their heads and mutter “Gee, just when you think you really know someone…”


Well, that’s DePietro’s intention anyway. In reality, many viewers will probably just groan and say, “That’s it? Really?” That’s because while the film’s central theme is compelling, its narrative decidedly isn’t. Inspired by Ford Madox Ford’s 1915 novel The Good Soldier (a connection that DePietro unwisely makes all too literal by having his characters repeatedly refer to the book throughout the movie), The Good Guy chronicles a six-week span in Tommy’s life, by the end of which his carefully constructed world will have come crumbling down…at least temporarily. The unraveling begins with the departure of one of the top earners in his tight-knight sales crew and his decision to offer that spot to Daniel, the office’s socially awkward IT worker who dreams of selling stocks and moving hedge fund cash with the big boys. Unfortunately, Daniel’s soft-spoken ways and discount-store fashion sense don’t jibe with the fast-paced, excess-loving world of Wall Street and Tommy realizes a major intervention is necessary if he’s going to be able to save Daniel’s job and his own. Meanwhile, his relationship with Beth suffers as she contemplates accepting a job offer in San Francisco and befriends his newest co-worker, finding the kind of sympathetic ear in Daniel that Tommy seems to lack.

Going into the movie, one of the things I was most curious about was how Bledel and Porter would fare outside of the TV-series that established their careers. Since leaving Gilmore Girls and Friday Night Lights respectively, they haven’t exactly ended up in the best projects. Porter was among the victims of the forgettable Prom Night remake while Bledel headlined one of last year’s worst-reviewed films, Post Grad. If nothing else, The Good Guy allows them to shed some of the traits that defined their TV personas. With his quick temper and duplicitous personality, Tommy is a far cry from the upstanding QB Jason Street, who Porter embodied for two-and-a-half seasons on FNL. As for Bledel, you’ll certainly have a hard time viewing her as innocent overachiever Rory Gilmore again after the scene where she slaps a condom on Tommy mid-coitus. Overall though, neither actor does particularly memorable work here; the play the material they’ve been handed decently enough, but they don’t elevate it. The only performer who does make an impression is Greenberg, previously best known to me for playing a slightly fictionalized version of himself on the HBO series Unscripted. At first glance, he seems too handsome to properly portray the dorky shut-in that Daniel is meant to be, but he achieves a fumbling awkwardness that suits the character well. Thanks to Greenberg’s portrayal, you understand why Beth is drawn to the man Daniel is while Tommy only has eyes for the man he can possibly become.


A former white-collar financial wizard himself, DePietro is very familiar with the world his main character moves in and he realizes it fairly well onscreen. He’s at his most comfortable when the action remains in Tommy’s office capturing the go-go-go intensity of life on The Street. At the same time, it’s worth pointing out that the movie’s version of Wall Street seems more in line with the financial industry as it existed in the ’80s and ’90s rather than the Great Recession era we currently find ourselves in. Tommy and his buddies certainly never appear all that worried about layoffs, bank failures or missing bailout money. DePietro’s depiction of the Manhattan dating scene also comes across as very retro; Beth travels in a pack of wisecracking single gals that could have stepped right out of a vintage episode of Sex and the City. For a movie that clearly aspires to be an up-to-the-minute representation of New York City, The Good Guy already feels quite dated.

The Good Guy opens in limited release today.  Visit the movie’s official website to learn more.