Nice Guy Johnny Edward Burns

Nice Guy Johnny Edward Burns
It's been awhile since Ed Burns has been the shit in the indie film world. Somewhere around the time he appeared in the hilariously bad A Sound of Thunder and made Looking for Kitty, he became irrelevant. Gone are the days when his macho talking, Irish New Yorker shtick was hip and pseudo-bankable, attracting actors like Jennifer Aniston and Cameron Diaz in films with a Tom Petty soundtrack. They've been replaced with supporting roles in One Missed Call and writing/directing gigs that have premiered on iTunes (Purple Violets). Nice Guy Johnny is an attempt to step back to his roots of filmmaking by featuring young, unknown actors and shooting in ten days with a budget under $25,000. He does this well, having a natural understanding of necessary coverage and actors' needs, but there isn't much of a sense that there is a real movie here with actual ire and purpose. Much like any number of films featuring Michael J. Fox in the late '80s, this ode to eternal male adolescence sends 24-year-old idealist Johnny Rizzo (Matt Bush) on a trip to NYC to interview for a banausic box factory gig set up by his shrill bitch fiancée's father. While there, he meets up with his id-driven, man-child uncle, Terry (Ed Burns), whose relationship perfidy plays both subtle and assertive, outright telling Johnny not to give up his sportscaster dream for some harpy mouthpiece while quietly sabotaging the relationship via proximity relations and happy accidents. Meeting and rejecting supportive and genuinely likable dream girl Brooke (Kerry Bishé), he begins to question his moral obligations and tied relationship responsibilities. Alas, there is no new spin or otherworldly insight shed on this well-worn subject, leaving the success of the film to rest on the shoulders of its young actors. Bishé is indeed up to the challenge, having charisma in spades, but Bush is a blank slate; I don't buy as the titular "nice guy" he's supposed to portray. Budgetary limitations show when different film stocks are edited together and the constant, jangly, faux-Lemonheads soundtrack repeats every 30 seconds. Included with the DVD are audition tapes, deleted scenes and an extension of the opening bar scene, which is incidentally, the worst in the film, along with a director's commentary track. Burns is quite candid about the many shortcuts and tricks he used while making the film, which could prove informative to someone looking to make their own pointless indie movie. (eOne)