NICE GUY JOHNNY On DemandOctober 26, 2010
NICE GUY JOHNNY is a nice movie and I mean nice in the best possible way.
It’s nice that writer-director Ed Burns returns to his “Brothers McMullen” low-budget roots and it’s nice that it is getting released digitally on iTunes, Netflix and Video on Demand. It’s also nice that the movie is very enjoyable.
NICE GUY JOHNNY is a romantic comedy that tells the story of the very likable Johnny (Matt Bush), a fledgling sports talk radio jock in the suburbs of Oakland looking for his big break. He loves what he does, even if he’s gabbing on the overnight for no money.
His only real problem is he’s promised his pushy fiancée Claire (Anna Wood) that he’d consider giving up his dream for a boring stable job that could be misconstrued as a career. A tough choice he’s not totally committed to making. When Johnny heads to New York for the job interview he meets up with his rogue Uncle Terry, played with good humor and charm by Ed Burns.
The gap between Johnny and Uncle Terry is more than generational. Uncle Terry’s moral compass is set to a lower standard than his young nephew’s so it takes a good deal of arm-twisting (and funny lines) to get Johnny to join him for a womanizing weekend in the Hamptons.
Being the nice guy that he is, Johnny reluctantly agrees to go, but not as his Uncle’s “wing” man. However, when Johnny meets Brooke (Kerry Bishe’), the beautiful tennis pro, his eyes are opened to a world of possibilities that could include his dreams.
The banter between Johnny and Uncle Terry is light and playful and provides some nice laughs - a credit to Mr. Burns’s writing and directing style. The scenes with Johnny and Brooke are equally enjoyable. While some plot points may be a little predictable, the film feels fresh and funny, while at the same time making me think back to the great romantic comedies of the 1930s and 40s.
In these cloudy days of the great recession it is really nice to know that a well-crafted, enjoyable movie can be made for $25,000. Wouldn’t it be nice if Mr. Burns could resurrect the true zeitgeist of Indie filmmaking that existed when he set the standard for no-budget filmmaking back in 1995?
That will only happen if more good movies like NICE GUY JOHNNY can be made for that kind of scratch. Maybe the time is right for the next independent movement; after all, frugality is back in vogue and the technology exists to get small films in front of enthusiastic audiences.
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