Such Good People
It’s difficult to be honest about a film when the intentions of the game cast are good. Such is the case with director Stewart Wade’s new film "Such Good People," which stars the likeable and talented Michael Urie ("Ugly Betty") and "Queer as Folk" alum Randy Harrison. With a number of great actors in smaller roles such as Scott Wolf ("Party of Five"), Ana Ortiz (also "Ugly Betty"), Tom Lenk (Joss Whedon fave), and indie king James Urbaniak, it’s a shame to watch all this talent not shine on screen. The fault isn’t their own.
The plot of "Such Good People" is convoluted at best. It’s supposed to have a "Down and Out in Beverly Hills" or "Outrageous Fortune"-type vibe of wacky hijinks, but none of it really works because we really don’t care what happens. Ricahrd (Urie) and Alex (Randy) are a couple in Los Angeles who are trying to adopt a baby and settle down. When they go out looking at houses they can’t afford, they fall in love with a craftsman house in Silverlake where, conveniently, a party is in progress. Even more conveniently, Alex spots his sister going inside, so they decide to crash. (How they get in is one of the laziest plot devices of the year.) Inside they end up befriending the home owners who are raising money for orphans in Buhtan. The couple asks them to house sit, which they jump at. Little do they know that Alex’s half-sister Paige (Carrie Wiita) and her husband Cooper (Urbaniak) are in love with the house, too.
Cut to a montage of the happy couple enjoying their new digs until they accidentally discover a hidden room that has a secret stash of almost a million dollars in cash. They do a number of inexplicably dumb things at this point and when the couple for whom they are housesitting is tragically killed, they end up essentially stealing the money. Guilt ridden, they decide to give it to the orphans themselves, but the Buhtan agency is wildly homophobic so they decide against it and give it to a porpoise charity instead. (Don’t ask.) But then they have second thoughts about how they could buy the house and pay the money back (really?) and take the money back. Long story short: The cops are onto them and so is sister Paige. Everyone wants the cash, the house, and some priceless art piece from Buhtan that I won’t even go into. Wackiness ensues.
The biggest problem with "Such Good People" is that it is directed in such a way that there is absolutely no energy to it at all. This is a wild situational comedy, yet the constant use of slow motion and the flat way it is shot suck all of the life from otherwise terrific actor’s performances. You can see them all trying really hard, but the film just lays lifeless on the screen.
The script by David Michael Barrett is tortuously complicated and each character comes across kind of like an asshole. Even our loving leads make terribly selfish choices to the point where when they do the right thing at the end and there is a tender moment of them finally getting what they want, it’s unearned. With a fresher rewrite and zippier direction this could have been an over-the-top and enjoyable throw-back to old ’80s comedies. Instead, it doesn’t give us a reason to care and makes us wish these fine actors were given more of a chance to show us what they’ve got.