He is a computer geek, a dork, in other words - a decent guy.

The Good Guy

An Illusion Review by Joan Ellis


            Where, now that we need them, are the wise men and women who should have risen from the Boomer generation to advise and consult on the financial crisis? They are banging on the door of the retirement industry; and if no one answers, they will break it down by their sheer numbers and their will. Our institutions were rocked by the impact of that ambitious generation, and yet it has produced markedly few financial leaders of national stature.

            "The Good Guy" is about the Little Yups, children of the Boomers now flocking to Wall Street in spite of "the troubles." They are certain they can absorb a chunk of the money that floats so freely through the downtown air. This story presumes greed and self-absorption and offers up a startlingly empty headed group of strivers.

            At Morgan and Morgan (no one said this movie is not obvious) the sales desk culture has certain iconic benchmarks: golf, the upper east side, sexual power, women as objects and absolute comfort in the nightlife of Manhattan bars. Alcohol is the lubricant that makes it work. You must love strip clubs (the petting zoo). You must know how to construct your nights. Tommy, head of the sales desk, says of his boss Cash, "He has nothing to show for his life) but a bad marriage and an awesome set of golf clubs."

            Tommy (Scott Porter) promotes Daniel (Bryan Greenberg) to be his understudy. You might wonder why. Daniel, though a graduate of Princeton and a veteran of two years in the Air Force, is inexplicably shy. He is a computer geek, a dork, in other words, a decent guy. His colleagues refer to him as "honest" in the pejorative sense. And then the light goes on: Tommy will mentor Daniel, sculpt him in his own image, and he will own his loyalty.

            Will Daniel have the smarts to see this and the guts to turn away? Will he fall in love with Tommy's bookish girlfriend Beth (Alexis Bledel)? Will Tommy pay the piper? Will we believe that even Beth and Daniel, who are cast as heroes in a culture of greed and ambition, are themselves empty ciphers? On the other hand, if they were more than that, would they have gone there in the first place?

            We can be forgiven for wishing the movie had said something about redemption or transcendence, but other than portraying a bunch of mean, drunk dealmakers, it offers no hope of change from the culture that caused the mess in the first place. Is it really possible that the Little Yups are sliding right into the slots of their retiring elders without any doubts at all? If this movie is any measure of the prevailing winds, Wall Street won't be providing the country with wise counselors for a long, long time; more likely, it seems, that they will continue to spend Wednesday nights in the strippers' petting zoo.


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