The Good Life (2007)

Genre(s): Drama
Image Entertainment || R - 89 minutes - $27.98 || November 4, 2008
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2008-11-02


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Steve Berra
Writer(s): Steve Berra (written by)
Cast: Mark Webber, Zooey Deschanel, Patrick Fugit, Chris Klein, Donal Logue, Drea De Matteo, Bruce McGill, Bill Paxton, Deborah Rush, Harry Dean Stanton


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Trailer


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.40)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

Ensemble drama The Good Life stars Mark Webber as Jason, a young man living in football town USA (Nebraska) but he himself doesnít care much for the sport. Heís working in a dead-end job at a gas station, takes care of his mother and works at a classic movie theater while looking after its owner, Gus (Stanton). He gets picked on by a former high school standout-turned-loser (Klein) and has an interesting relationship with his sister (De Matteo) and football fanatic brother-in-law (Logue).

One day he meets a mysterious woman named Frances (Deschanel) who is herself an outcast in this small football town. She helps Jason free himself from the captivity of a non-existent life held back by a cruel father and an immune deficiency that causes all of his hair to fall out.

The Good Life isnít the greatest drama ever made but it is filled with several fine performances, starting with Mark Webber and Zooey Deschanel. The story, however, is flawed not due to poorly written characters (save for one, which I will get to later) or even situations, but the tone throughout teeters on depressing. That said it also doesnít fall into the failures of the ensemble drama genre. I never felt the story was ever convoluted even when the entrance of one character in particular will probably set off a few red flags.

This brings me to: Bill Paxton as Robbie. Robbie is a guy who, well, I honestly have no idea what his purpose was other than to add one more familiar face to the group and provide some key information for our main character so he can get to his ultimate goal. I like Paxton; I think heís a terrific and often underrated actor but his character was a bit confusing especially since heís really only in two scenes total and maybe 6 or 7 lines. The only possible reason for his inclusion was Paxton also served as executive producer and was a driving force in getting this picture made in the first place. Although I think his character couldíve been put to better use, itís not a fatal flaw overall.

As I said, the movie does feature several great, though quiet, supporting performances from the venerable Harry Dean Stanton as a older man losing his memory; Drea De Matteo of ďSopranosĒ fame as Jasonís sister; Patrick Fugit as Jasonís seemingly only friend (and a distant one at that); or Chris Klein as the has-been high school football star wasting his life away.

The Good Life originally debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in January of 2007 and made appearances at various other film festivals and finally found a home on DVD from Image Entertainment. Although I canít quite call this a masterpiece or an Oscar worthy film, I do think the performances are great and the story even with a couple miscues works on the whole. Iím glad itís getting to see the light of day on DVD so others may give a chance as I did.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

The only extra is the filmís trailer (1:59).



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

The video quality isnít fantastic but it looks decent enough. The film is presented in anamorphic widescreen with a 2.40 AR. I didnít notice any sort of grain, scratches or other elements on the transfer.

Considering this is a dialog heavy movie (with plenty of voice over work), the Dolby 5.1 track is more than suitable. A stereo track is also available.



.::OVERALL::.

The Good Life isnít the greatest drama Iíve ever seen, but it is well worth checking out for fantastic performances from the cast, especially stars Mark Webber and Zooey Deschanel. After debuting at the Sundance Film Festival in í07, and basically disappearing into other film festivals, Iím happy that it finally will get to the masses on DVD.