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Review: Good for Nothing

Chuck Bowen



Good for Nothing
Photo: Screen Media Films

Good for Nothing might have the most appalling premise of any movie I’ve ever encountered; this is a case where a filmmaker fuses a couple of high-concept gimmicks together without any thought as to what that fusion may imply. In the Old West, which is about as much narrative detail as writer-director Mike Wallis supplies, a man (Cohen Holloway) viciously guns down a bunch of ruffians inside a bar and snatches the establishment’s lone woman, a beautiful English brunette named Isabella (Inge Rademeyer), for the usual prurient bad-guy reasons. The Man sprints Isabella out into the middle of nowhere, forces her to the ground, and spreads her legs and undoes himself, only to find that everything isn’t working as it should—thus leading to a romantic adventure about a rapist and his intended victim as they ride across the country in a search for a medicine man who can fix his “broken dick.” The cure, of course, is the love of a beautiful woman.

There’s no recovery from a premise like that unless some satirical purpose is intended, but Wallis appears to believe that he’s telling a straightforward tale of a beauty that redeems her beast. We’re meant to sympathize with the Man as a misunderstood, barely articulate man of the Old West who’s become a shoot-first-ask-questions-never sociopath as an adaptive response to the harsh terrain that surrounds him. Yet we’re to hiss at the villains who pursue him, even though their motivation is more reasonable than anything we see the Man do.

What this film is asking us to buy is so insane it bears repeating: Good for Nothing concerns a man—who’s presented to us as our hero—questing to find a way to rape a woman he’s kidnapped, with one instance in which an attempted rape is nearly staged as a joke in a conventional romantic comedy. Because there’s no discernible irony here, no subtext that appears to be intended, we’re apparently supposed to accept this narrative as a contemporary twist on opposites who must attract. If the film were brilliantly made it would be unforgiveable for this premise alone, but luckily it’s an otherwise forgettable pastiche of ancient Wild West clichés, featuring a male lead who wouldn’t appear to possess the slightest shred of authority in front of the camera. This turkey wasn’t meant to hurt anyone, as Wallis was probably after something in the tradition of the infinitely superior Quigley Down Under, but he let some pretty damn common sense elude him somewhere in the process of putting it all together. The title is apropos, but it’s also an understatement.

Cast: Cohen Holloway, Inge Rademeyer Director: Mike Wallis Screenwriter: Mike Wallis Distributor: Screen Media Films Running Time: 91 min Rating: R Year: 2011 Buy: Video

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