Good Dick

Good Dick

Film review by: Witney Seibold



            An unnamed man (Jason Ritter) works at a video store (CineFile Video) with his best friends (Martin Starr from the Apatow factory, friendly bear Eric Edelstein, and clueless Mark Webber). He doesn’t seem to have a real home; he sleeps in his car. He is a recovering addict. When an unnamed woman (writer/director Marianna Palka) wanders into his store to rent a pile of pornographic videos, he instantly falls in love. It’s unclear why he is attracted to this woman, as she is aggressively dour, and only opens her mouth to repel other people. Nevertheless, the man, in a series of mountingly creepy tactics, tries to insinuate himself into her life, and into her apartment.

            Pretty soon, he’s worn her down to the point where they are living together. She constantly insults him, refuses to open up, and remains as wounded as ever. Despite how guarded she is, we get some clues as to her inner workings. For one, she refuses to touch her porn videos with her bare hands, preferring to wear plastic gloves. She stanchly refuses any physical contact, although she seems to ache for it. The type of porn she watches features so penetration scenes. By the end of the film, we have learned her secrets (they involve Dad, played in one outstanding scene by a surprisingly good Tom Arnold), and have discovered that it was not necessarily love that the man felt for her, but a dire need to heal her. And, in so doing, heal himself.

            The opening meet-cute scenes of the man trying to make his way into the woman’s apartment are nearly insufferable. They are infected with that brand of “quirky” indie romcom cutesiness that marks the worst of the genre. But just when you think the entire film is going to continue at such a pitch, it dials down immensely, and starts to become something far more fascinating. It becomes a tale of secrets, opening up, and, in the words of Marvin Gaye, sexual healing. Yes, the title is not a double entendre.

            I loved the way this film meted out information. It had no direct lines of dialogue to give away people’s secrets. It had casual mentions after the fact. There were no “serious talks,” but a slow, silent understanding. By the time information was understood by the audience, the characters were already onto the next step. This was not a way to outpace the audience, but a casual and natural way to revel only what needed revealing. There was no extraneous information in this movie.

            It’s a good film. It was clearly made for little money by a very passionate filmmaker. Palka believes in this movie, and, despite its cloying opening scenes, her passion can rub off.

            Another conceit of “Good Dick” that I admired was its view of video store workers as the Keepers of the Kingdom. Employees of video stores, especially of grandly esoteric and holistic ones like CineFile video, have a film knowledge that surpasses that of the ordinary human being. They have constant librarian’s access to the great wonders and sticky depths of the world of cinema, catalogued and easy-to-digest. They also have the power to recommend the very film that just may open you up to the world. They can even recommend the right kind of porn, the kind that appeals directly to your tastes, but also may help you overcome your sexual hangups, if you find the right store and the right employee.

            Video stores have been suffering lately, thanks to the horror of a mail-order video company called NetFlix. Thanks to a faltering economy, though, some video stores have been granted a recent boost (people, I think, are attempting to cut out every bill possible, and are going back to the pay-as-you-rent structure). They are still living. Go to them.

            CineFile video is located here:

Published in: on November 6, 2008 at 7:27 pm  Leave a Comment  

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