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Villager Film Review: Nice Guy Johnny

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Check out my review of Nice Guy Johnny in this week’s Villager, which premired at last month’s TriBeCa Film Festival. You can click on the link or read the article as it appeared below.

Villager Review of Nice Guy Johnny

NICE GUY JOHNNY (+)
Directed by Edward Burns
89 minutes

BY PAULA ROSENBERG

At a Q&A session which followed a screening of his latest movie “Nice Guy Johnny,” Edward Burns was asked why he is so passionate about making independent features. Burns answered: “You do it because it’s who you are and what you love to do.”

As the title suggests, nice guy Johnny Rizzo (Matt Bush) is a pleasant soul in his mid-twenties who’s being pressured by his overbearing fiancé Claire (Anna Wood) to give up his dream job as a sports talk radio host for a better paying gig.

Johnny flies to NYC to go on an interview for a managerial position — an interview arranged by his future father-in-law. Johnny’s philandering Uncle Terry (Burns) convinces him to spend the weekend before the interview in the Hamptons. Terry introduces him to Brooke (Kerry Bishe) — an effervescent beauty who immediately senses Johnny’s discontentment with the direction his life is taking.

This film falls into the trap of having supporting characters that are more interesting than its leads. Wood is delightfully disdainful as the tyrannical Claire, but the audience is left wondering what Johnny saw in her in the first place. Burns even admitted, “You can see it’s a lot more fun to play Uncle Terry then Johnny.” It is hard to bring charm and charisma to someone who is juggling multiple affairs with married women; but Burns pulls it off so well that it is impossible to pay attention to anyone else when Terry is in a scene. It is easy to see why Johnny is attracted to the breathtaking Brooke — but there’s a lack of chemistry between Bush and Bishe.

Fortunately, the story isn’t about Johnny having to choose between Brooke and Claire. The plot revolves around him evaluating what truly makes him happy and having to decide between following his aspirations and meeting other people’s expectations. The film becomes much more engaging and plausible during its second half, as Johnny begins to assert himself.

Shot on location in Easthampton and Manhattan, Burns once again proves he can put a polished film together on a shoestring budget. The film’s soundtrack, by P.T. Walkley, is the perfect backdrop to Johnny’s conundrum. His songs — including “Aquarius,” “What’s What” and “Something More” — are fresh and interesting. Despite some flaws, “Nice Guy Johnny” is worth checking out.

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Written by paularosenberg

May 11, 2010 at 10:59 am

One Response

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  1. Very interesting interview. I started watching Mr. Burns at the beginning of his career. I wondered what had happened to him and now I know.

    John

    John McEvoy

    October 19, 2010 at 6:07 pm


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