**/**** Image B+ Sound B Extras C-
starring Charlie Sheen, Angie Harmon, Denise Richards, Rosanna Arquette
screenplay by Daniel Margosis & Robert Horn
directed by Steve Rash
by Walter Chaw In the proud tradition of Straight Talk and Dr. Detroit (and Spellbound, I guess), Charlie Sheen digs at his own apex role in Wall Street before pretending to be an abusive advice columnist at a failing paper run by the lovely Angie Harmon in Good Advice. More Hot Shots! than The Front Page, the film--buoyed by a consistently light screwball tone unfortunately only occasionally matched by neo-screwball dialogue--nonetheless has a few unexpectedly funny moments. Denise Richards is suitably reptilian when typecast as an airhead bitch princess, and Sheen demonstrates the kind of comedic timing and Shatner-esque gift for self-effacement (he gets an enema bath at one point) that might extend his career despite being a boondoggle magnet, e.g., the Heidi Fleiss thing and, of course, the "I married Denise Richards" thing.
Ryan Turner (Sheen) is a high-rolling stockbroker, ruthless and mean-spirited. Dating a vacuous bimbo advice columnist, Cindy (Richards), who promptly drops him when an insider-trading scheme lands him on the unemployment line, Ryan assumes Cindy's identity at Page's (Harmon) little newspaper for the paycheck. He's met with unexpected success; hilarity ensues.
One of those 'find your inner woman'/cad redemption fables that follows a very basic formula as stunningly predictable as the "plop" of a chronically leaky faucet, Good Advice is carried off with enough familiarity and lightness that its inevitability is sort of a comfort. It's like that pair of old sneakers: it stinks, but it's a stink you like. Helping matters is an accomplished comic supporting cast that includes Estelle Harris, Jon Lovitz, and Rosanna Arquette. Only Angie Harmon seems out of place: a good dramatic actress, Harmon is a little out of rhythm here. While she doesn't destroy the picture, she keeps Good Advice from being more than a relatively harmless diversion. I laughed longest at Jon Lovitz's reaction to surprise fellatio; the picture is mostly kind, and wise not to overstay its welcome at a breezy ninety minutes.
Artisan presents a more than adequate 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer on DVD (as well as a 1.33:1 pan-and-scan on the same side of the platter) that belies the relatively low budget and production values of the film. The colours are bright and black levels deep. The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is lively, though there are a few moments in which the soundtrack levels jump between the two front channels. All in all, a satisfactory presentation--dialogue clear all the way through.
A feature-length commentary by director Steve Rash is one of those technically obsessed jobs that offers lots of information interesting if not for the low-rent aspirations of the piece. Rash talks a little teensy bit about Sheen and Richards getting engaged during filming, but his anecdotes are in large part of the "she's pretty" and "Jon Lovitz had a broken leg here" variety. A medium-level of silence adorns the track. Brief production notes, cast & crew filmographies, and a trailer for the film along with trailers for Dr. T & The Women, Novocaine, Picking Up the Pieces, Van Wilder, The Rambo Trilogy, and the Special Edition DVD of the made-for-Sci-Fi Network Dune round out the disc. Originally published: May 17, 2002.