Good for Nothing (review)

It’s the kind of story that low-budget indie filmmakers often tell: a semi-autobiographical one about the desperateness of peering through the windows of the house of shiny, happy Hollywood, and badly — badly — wanting in. Good for Nothing, the tale of struggling Los Angeles actor Danny, is based on the real-life fight of struggling L.A. actor Scott Jason, who — not surprisingly — plays Danny, and who wrote and produced what is, happily, a little gem of the genre, funny and self-deprecating and insightful. (Director Mark Gutmann makes it look far more expensive than its micro budget, too.) A slacker odyssey of dashed dreams and reality checks, this bittersweet flick follows Danny through a weekend that, he announces in the retrospective voiceover, changed his life forever: his girlfriend finally reaches her limit and leaves him; his agent, the only one in town who will touch him, tells him he’s “hopeless”; and he’s about to be evicted from his sponging-off-Mom, rent-free living situation. But while he pursues that elusive big break, he doesn’t seem to realize that just having a dream isn’t enough. It’s not that, as he admits to himself and to us, he has neither the “looks, voice, or talent” of a major actor — it’s that he doesn’t seem to want to work for his dream. Watching Danny shrug off an invitation to audition for a play a local library is mounting while he simultaneously seethes with resentment over the very minor success of another actor who has cast his net far and wide, networking and honing his craft, is downright heartbreaking. But with Good for Nothing, Jason proves that he does not share Danny’s thick skull or aversion to hard, often thankless work. Jason, unlike Danny, is making his own luck, and here’s hoping that this terrific film finds its way to audiences beyond the festival circuit soon.

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