Directed By: Edward Burns
Written By: Edward Burns
Produced By: Edward Burns, Aaron Lubin, William Rexer
Cast: Matt Bush, Kerry Bishé, Edward Burns, Anna Wood, Michele Harris
MPAA Rating: NR
Runtime: 89 minutes
Release Date: October 26, 2010
Review Date: October 27, 2010
Nice Guy Johnny is a coming-of-age story for Johnny Rizzo (Matt Bush) and his quest to either live his dream of becoming a sports broadcaster or settle into a life with his longtime girlfriend, and now fiancée, Claire (Anna Wood).
Johnny and Claire live in California, but Claire desperately wants to get back to New York and live the life she has always imagined: spacious apartment, extravagant living and having kids. Johnny agrees to go to an interview in New York his future father-in-law got him and ends up visiting with his parents and Uncle Terry (Edward Burns). Uncle Terry is a washed up, still living the Lost Boys life well into his adult and manhood. When he learns of Johnny’s new “desire” to give up his dream to work in the cardboard box business, he does the thing every playboy uncle would do: A trip to the Hamptons and making sure Johnny meets a beautiful girl.
The girl is Brooke (Kerry Bishé), a tennis instructor for one of the many ladies Uncle Terry has “friendships” with. And she’s beautiful and a good foot taller than our little Johnny. She has that free spirit Gen-Y vibe going on, making you like her instantly despite the fact she doesn’t really have too much direction in her life.
Johnny, being the nice guy that he is, hangs out with Brooke, but immediately lets her know that he’s in a relationship and
happy afraid to upset people. Brooke becomes the muse for Johnny’s life harping on how great it is to do what a person wants, when a person wants to do it. To live a life where you worry about no one else but yourself. And as a twenty-something, you don’t really get to own that mentality for too long, so you might as well live up to it.
After a series of events at a bonfire, Johnny is in hot water with his fiancée and in turn, her parents. It’s during these revelations when everyone continues to dog him, that he finally gets the backbone to stand up straight and take ownership of his life, instead of letting someone else sail him along.
Matt Bush is perfect as the easygoing, go-with-the-flow, easily impressionable Johnny. He’s always looking to do the right thing, and only the right thing, in every situation.
Edward Burns also trades time behind the camera and on screen (he also found the time to write the script at some point). He creates an effortless and realistic story that unfolds over the course of a weekend. His take on Uncle Terry is phenomenal, making himself the antithesis of Johnny and bringing a bad boy charm no lady can resist.
The story seems a bit predictable at times, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be cheering at the end. Also, during the Q&A Burns held after the film screening, you learn he shot the whole thing for a very meager budget (extremely lean in Hollywood terms), which makes you appreciate the art of the film even more.
We all know a Nice Guy Johnny in our lives, and you’ll feel compelled to root for this one, too.
Hanna Soltys is a green tea drinker and film critic living in Chicago.