Dispatched from his basement room on an errand for his widowed mother, slacker Jeff might discover his destiny (finally) when he spends the day with his unhappily married brother as he tracks his possibly adulterous wife.
Boys behaving badly. Jay, a middle-class high-school sophomore, hangs out in his L.A. suburb with slackers, dopers, petty thieves and punks. Everyone has a nickname; his is Worm. His best friend, John, aka Mt. Rushmore, severely beats another student at a wedding Jay and his pals crash. At the wedding, Jay falls for Wendy, one of the jock clique. Jay has his code: no ratting out your friends. So, when the beating victim dies, Jay doesn't help the cops. Meanwhile, his relationship with Wendy develops quickly into a first love. With knives, whiskey, and drugs close at hand, can Jay navigate assaults on his manhood, the strains of friendship, and the whispers of commitment? Written by
A Coming of Age Story with a Noticeable Identity Crisis
"The Good Humor Man" is a movie that takes place in the suburbs during
the spring of 1976 and is about a smart high schooler whose parents
question his choice in friends. Judging from the cover art of the DVD,
it looks like a comedy very similar to its predecessors like "Dazed &
Confused " (1993) , "Detroit Rock City" (1999), and the short-lived but
legendary TV series "Freaks & Geeks" (1999-2000). The first 30 minutes
of the movie feel like a comedy too, especially with Jorge Garcia
playing a character nicknamed "Mt. Rushmore". It's not hard to compare
Garcia to John Belushi. Not only does his facial features bear a
striking resemblance to Saturday Night Live's fallen angel, but his Mt.
Rushmore character lives for drinking and using drugs the same way
Bluto Blutarsky did in "Animal House" (1978). Garcia echos Belushi in a
unique way that miraculously doesn't translate as a rip off, and Garcia
has a commanding presence on screen. Every time he's in a scene, he
owns it big time.
Garcia is a supporting character in this film, the Falstaff to the
Henry V that is Jay, played by Nathan Stevens. Jay is the central
character, and Mt. Rushmore is the bad influence of a friend his yuppie
parents (Elise Robertson and Kelsey Grammar) wish he would stop hanging
out with. Jay also takes an interest in Wendy (the gorgeous Cameron
Richardson), a girl in his class who is supposedly out of his league
both financially and in terms of popularity. In high school, popularity
is its own social class scale with blurry lines drawn that only high
schoolers can see, and it's evident in this film perhaps better than in
other high school movies.
So the setup for a high school comedy is here, but not even one quarter
of the way through does the film take a strangely dark and dramatic
turn while not letting go of its comedic ideals. Jay, Mt. Rushmore, and
two other stoner buddies crash a wedding for the free booze and food.
Mt. Rushmore and Jay mostly succeed in remaining incognito, but one of
their friends makes anti semitic remarks to a guy their age wearing a
yarmulke. Eventually, a fight breaks out resulting in more than just a
damaged wedding cake. Ultimately, Mt. Rushmore gets into a fight with a
popular jock at the wedding, goes from using fists to bringing out a
knife, and unintentionally kills him.
This point is where the film pushed the envelope and sacrificed its
comedic potential, but not its credibility. It still told a very
intriguing story as Mt. Rushmore somehow manages to successfully hide
from the police despite his size and his penchant for hanging out in
the park with Jay and other acquaintances. Meanwhile, Jay refuses to
tell the police about Mt. Rushmore's whereabouts in the only
unrealistic part of the movie. Jay's reasons not to rat his friend out
are understandable. In reality, it would seem as though the police
would arrest him for holding evidence. Here, they shake their heads in
dismay and leave, something that's unlikely to happen in real life.
Probably the scene I liked best involved Mt. Rushmore breaking into the
basement of the guy he incidentally killed. There's no expression of
remorse on his face, but his following actions scream through his skin
that is thick both literally and figuratively. Garcia here really
masters the storytelling rule of showing, not telling, and the result
is quite powerful. Again, it takes the film in an unexpectedly dark
direction, but not an inappropriate one.
Similarly, Jason Segel took a turn from what one would expect to be a
comedic role as Smelly Bob, a 25-year-old ex-convict who for reasons
unexplained likes to hang out with the stoner high school crowd. He's
significantly older than the others, but doesn't look out of place and
makes Matthew McConaughey's character in "Dazed & Confused" look noble.
Plus, he plays a guy who's a far cry from the nice guy he would later
make a name for himself as in "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" (2007) & "I
Love You, Man" (2009).
Credit to this film also lies in Stevens' and Richardson's undeniable
on-screen chemistry and poignant love scenes other filmmakers may have
exploited for a cheap sex gag. This effective plot point added to the
70's decor that naturally fits into the film and the appropriately
grainy picture that gives the film depth makes the film unique and
original enough to recommend. It's just best to know that although this
film has its funny moments, it's more dramatic than the cover art
suggests. It may not be the filmmakers fault, although the name of this
film doesn't quite fit with the story either. A part about ice cream is
mentioned in the end, but you never know who the Good Humor Man is or
why. Maybe that's the point of this film, but who knows?
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