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The Good Girl
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this film deals with potentially upsetting issues such as mental illness and infidelity in an understated manner. Strong language is used throughout the film, and there are several scenes depicting sex without frontal nudity. Alcohol and drug abuse (pot) are depicted. There is a scene of coerced sex that verges on rape, and two offscreen deaths, one by suicide.
- Parents say
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What's the story?
THE GOOD GIRL is a mature story about love and frustration with special appeal for fans (teenage and adult) of Jennifer Aniston. In a suburban Texas town, Justine (Anniston) works at the local Retail Rodeo. Her job is a bore, and her jerk of a husband (John C. Reilly) spends every afternoon stoned on the couch with his buddy (Tim Blake Nelson). Alienated from everyone, Justine thinks she's found a soulmate in Holden (Jake Gyllenhaal), the sulky new cashier at the Rodeo. He's really a writer, and he's named after the main character in Catcher in the Rye, and nobody understands him. That he's only 22 to Justine's 30 makes him all the more forbidden fruit, and they quickly start a torrid affair. But Justine has much more to lose than Holden, and as he becomes more and more needy, Justine finds herself forced to choose between her new love and the everyday life she finds slipping away.
Is it any good?
The Good Girl has both funny and touching moments; all the actors give very sharp performances with great dialogue, but the plot fails slightly at the end. If this movie is a parable about how the absolute, black and white beliefs of youth give way to mature compromise, the story itself should never just fade to an unsatisfying "realistic" gray.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Justine's decision at the end of the film, and how it might affect her life in the future.
The title of the film is both serious and ironic -- in what ways is Justine a good girl, and how does she balance her desires with the good of the people around her?
What made Holden so attractive to Justine at the beginning, and how did this make him "a demon" by the end?
Although Christianity plays a relatively small role in the story, parents with strong faith will want to talk about the issues of forgiveness and coercion explicitly brought up by the film. What's the difference between professing a faith and adhering to it?