Nice Guy Johnny -- Film Review



As blandly likable as the noble dishrag of a fella it's named for, Ed Burns' "Nice Guy Johnny" hatches a romantic dilemma that only a numbskull could fail to resolve, then spends an hour and a half waiting for its hero to stop being a numbskull.

The be-true-to-yourself message and pleasant seaside environs will sit well with viewers, and the filmmaker's presence in front of the camera might be a selling point. However, with the exception of a winning performance by co-star Kerry Bishe, there's little to spark anything beyond a modest boxoffice response.

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Fresh-faced Matt Bush plays the title character, the enthusiastic host of a late-night radio sports show whose fiancee (Anna Wood) has wheedled him into a soul-crushing deal: If he's not making $50,000 by his 25th birthday, Johnny has to give up the microphone and let her daddy get him a real job.

Flying to New York for that fateful job interview, Johnny displays a loyalty that is as admirable as it is misdirected: He steadfastly refuses to let his bartending, womanizing Uncle Terry (Burns) set easy-lay female obstacles in his path to the altar. But Johnny makes a mistake when he accepts Terry's offer of a ride to his mother's house on Long Island and has to tag along as Terry visits a married girlfriend. Her tennis instructor, Brooke (Bishe), is young, charming and single.

One knows where this is headed, and it's a tiny bit annoying to watch Bush continue to deny his destiny especially while the movie's sleazebag is actually (if accidentally) giving him good advice.

As the plot ambles through complications brought on by Terry's wandering eye, Johnny gets calls from his fiancee that are increasingly one-dimensional. Meanwhile, Brooke is doing everything but buy the boy a pack of condoms.

In the end, Johnny can barely make the right choices when the wrong ones are no longer an option. We might be relieved to see him creep toward getting a girl who won't make his life miserable, but does the movie expect us to respect him?

Venue: Tribeca Film Festival
Production: Marlboro Road Gang Prods
Cast: Matt Bush, Kerry Bishe, Anna Wood, Edward Burns, Max Baker
Director-screenwriter: Edward Burns
Producer: Aaron Lubin
Director of photography: William Rexer II
Music: P.T. Walkley
Editor: Janet Gaynor
Sales Agent: Dana O'Keefe, Cinetic Media
No rating, 89 minutes