Sol Goode
review by Gregory Avery, 28 March 2003

Sol (Balthazar Getty) is a guy who lives in Los Angeles, can't get steady work as an actor, can't get a job to support himself by other means, but is legendary among friends and female acquaintances. Exactly how he got that way is a little difficult to discern in Sol Goode, even though the film is sporadically very funny, more so than a lot of other comedies that have come out over the last fourteen months.

One of the things the film has going for it how it shows men frankly competing for attention from the opposite sex, and how they can often look incredibly foolish while doing so. One of Sol's friends, Cooper (played by the film's writer/director, Danny Comden), is obsessed with making sure that his hair looks okay -- he's so obsessed with the overall "look" he projects that he sometimes fails to notice how individual aspects, like a see-through nylon shirt or cribbing by using a little eye-liner under his eyes, can glaringly stand out over everything else when seen from another person's perspective. Justin (Jamie Kennedy), who shares a suburban house with Sol, has set his sights upon his commitment to getting married to Brenda (Natasha Gregson Wagner), so much so that he's failing to see that he's about to become betrothed to a harridan: he doesn't want to spoil things by complaining about her controlling behavior, while her alternately controlling, then comforting, responses indicate that she's gradually learning how to wrap him around her finger. (Justin's also getting it on the other end at work, where he toils as an assistant to a talent agent, played by Cheri Oteri, who puts the fear of God into both her employees and, also, some of her clients.) It's the kind of doomed-to-fail relationship that is obvious to the outside observer, unless you happen to be in the relationship, and Justin's eventual emancipation (and the way Kennedy plays it) is one of the most exhilarating things in the film.

The subplot involving Justin and Brenda turns out to be one of the best things in Sol Goode, which, to its credit, tries to expand to accommodate a number of plot threads and characters in order to give the film more scope and substance. Instead, it tends to diminish the film's overall effect and focus. The men may act like mature men rather than adolescents (a big difference in U.S. film comedy, nowadays), but some of the plotlines peter out badly, such as the one where Johnathon Schaech plays a Texas cousin of Sol's who shows up out of the blue for a visit, and amazes everyone by confirming reports of his Dirk Diggler-like endowment -- although his ability to attract women has more to do with the fact that he's sweet-natured and attentive. What concerns everyone about Sol is that he's never had a long-standing relationship with a woman -- he wants to live life scot-free, and he's worked out an elaborate scheme regarding how to deal with such things as making sure he's never caught in a situation where he's caught having to respond one way or another to a girl asking him to call her as she's going out the door. The heart of the film's story has to do with Sol's beginning to get the nagging feeling that he doesn't want to do this any more, and he keeps his romantic life strictly separate from his friendship with Chloe, who, the moment she turns up in the personage of actress Katharine Towne, you know will prove to be the answer to Sol's problems -- he can relax around her and just "talk", for instance. How they'll end up together, though, doesn't hold any mystery in the film, it just seems like an inevitability waiting to happen.

It might've been less so if Balthazar Getty were more convincing as a guy who gets continually recognized (and in a good way) by attractive women. Getty is a perfectly fine actor, and he tries hard, but while he has a hard masculine quality, he doesn't exactly come off like, say, a young Warren Beatty (Beatty had a combination of masculinity and sensuality, which makes a difference) -- when Getty crooks an eyebrow towards a woman, I would think the first thing that would go through most women's minds would be to check their pocketbooks. But this is more a matter of casting. The picture is worth checking out for Katharine Towne, who is just about perfect as Chloe -- she's not a pushover, can give as good as she gets, is straightforward, yet she has a warm and inviting quality, and she makes the question of whether her character will find a true and lasting love by the end of the movie a vital one. The picture itself also manages to spring at least one really good plot turn by the time it is over -- so that Sol Goode emerges, very respectably, as a pretty good try.

Written and
Directed by:

Danny Comden

Starring:
Balthazar Getty
Jamie Kennedy
Danny Comden
Katharine Towne
Natasha Gregson Wagner
Cheri Oteri
Tori Spelling
Johnathon Schaech
Carmen Electra
Christina Pickles 
Robert Wagner

Rated:
R - Restricted.
Under 17 requires
parent or adult
guardian.

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