The Provocative But Inconclusive Good Dick


An unnamed video-store clerk (Jason Ritter) falls hard for an unnamed woman (writer-director Marianna Palka) who rents porn and barely notices him. Undeterred, the sweet-natured guy nonchalantly insinuates himself into her life, tracking down where she lives, finding excuses to hang around her building, and eventually wearing her down until she allows him to move in with her. Though she’s not interested in him—frankly, she’s so withdrawn she barely seems interested in anything—he starts behaving as if they’re a couple. In anyone else’s hands, Palka’s anti-romantic comedy would be an ironic parody of stalker films, but her insistence on playing the situation straight yields some rewarding emotional results. The characters may be misfits—we learn just how much so as the film progresses—but the performances are nicely restrained, allowing no actorly preciousness or smug cheap shots at the pair’s expense. Unfortunately, Good Dick is all high-wire act, determinedly thwarting the expectations of its genre but unable to present a wholly successful alternative to rom-com conventionality. It feels provocative but inconclusive—brimming with intriguing ideas about love’s dark underbelly, but not quite confident enough to pull them off.