JENNIFER ANISTON is great in The Good Girl (on disc Jan. 7) because she plays a false friend and faithless lover, yet forces us to identify fully with her, subverting what movies usually do: appeal to our narcissism. Writer Mike White and director Miguel Arteta outdo their own Chuck & Buck, which also made us identify with creeps. Aniston's Texan housewife, maddened by her pothead housepainter husband (John C. Reilly) and to-die-from job at the Wal-Mart-like Retail Rodeo, is more sympathetic than the hideous stalker White played in Chuck & Buck, even though she commits multiple adultery and attempted murder by poisoned berries. We're with her all the way as she strives to escape her shabby small-town life—a better seriocomic milieu than the somewhat similar About Schmidt. The cast is fantastic: Jake Gyllenhaal as Aniston's Holden Caulfield-obsessed Retail Rodeo Romeo; Tim Blake Nelson as Reilly's fanged fuckup of a best friend, stonily imagining a paint that would make houses invisible; Zooey Deschanel as Retail Rodeo's punk antiheroine. Only White fails in the role he wrote for himself: a too-broadly buffoonish Bible-thumping store guard.
The two commentaries by Aniston and White/Arteta are dimly informative: Aniston used padding in her crotch for the sex scene with Gyllenhaal, but says she had to remove some because "it looked like he was doing my knees." The nine deleted scenes deserved cutting, but it's smart to include optional commentaries on them. The bloopers reel is worth a tiny smile. The Good Girl is like a sweet berry with a toxic tang.
JAN. 14 BRINGS the top title from my 10-best list for '02, the French workplace thriller Time Out (no extras). For those who love to quote Bette Davis (and you know who you are), Fox is putting out some classics including All About Eve. The documentary Shadow Boxers chronicles female pugilists, while FearDotCom doesn't accomplish much of anything at all (except perhaps ending the career of Stephen Dorff, we hope). You can experience a flashback to 1985 with the pioneering hip-hop musical Krush Groove, or indulge in Bogie nostalgia with 1947's Dead Reckoning. Surf girl alert! Blue Crush also debuts on disc; and, no, it has nothing to do with hip-hop.