Posted: 09/13/2009


Good Dick

by Elaine Hegwood Bowen

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Good Dick might be a good movie toward the end; there’s some redemption and explanation that takes place, but the majority of the movie portrays the young female lead as being a sexually dysfunctional soul who fortunately finds a seemingly equally dysfunctional young man with whom to wile away her time. So in that sense, I gather it’s good for those two souls.

Marianna Palka plays a young woman who is obsessed with what eventually turn out to be porn movies, and Jason Ritter plays a young man who works at the video store, who eventually falls in love with her. But how he even falls in love with her is hard to discern, since he repulses her so much, and she rejects all his advances and treats him so poorly.
While she spends her days watching DVDs, Jason tries to figure out how he can get closer to her, not knowing her troubled past. He had been sleeping in his car, but he manages to sleep, at least on her couch, before he finally advances to her bed, but still with great restrictions.

The harder he tries, the more she pushes him away, until finally she realizes that his patience and persistence is just what she needs to liberate herself from the past demons that had her nearly crazy.
I guess I shouldn’t label them as dysfunctional, since the young woman has a past that has sort of pushed her away from normalcy and shrouded her in this rut that seems to worsen her situation before she can even begin to work her way out.

The young man works well with her, he doesn’t give up, even when she’s her angriest and treats him so vile, that as a viewer you’re rallying for him to leave her alone.
But even as she pushes her male friend away, no matter how hard he tries to maintain his presence, somewhere in the midst of it all, she decides to break free.

The source of her depression and frustration is finally revealed, when she goes to visit her father, played by Tom Arnold. We learn that he’s set her up in a condo and given her a car, but it’s really blood money, because he allegedly is the reason why she can’t find normal love or affection with a man, or for that matter even allow a man to get close to her.
And the main thing that’s holding her hostage is the relationship she has with her father. After confronting him, she’s free to salvage the relationship that the young man has been trying to offer and begin a productive life, with just the two of them.

Good Dick, I suppose, could be a play on words—meaning that it’s “good,” because it wasn’t forced on her, not like the assumed relationship between she and her father. It’s “good,” because the young man didn’t pressure her and just waited it out, treating her with as much respect and tender loving care as he could.
It’s good to be able to figure it all out in the end, because in this way, Good Dick redeems itself. It’s also an added treat, because Palka also wrote and directed the movie.

Elaine Hegwood Bowen is an editor, writer and film critic in Chicago.

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