Review – No Good Deed Goes Unpunished (“Greta”)

It’s a good thing to be sweet, kind, and loving to others. But what happens when being nice to someone backfires? This is the diabolical tale of what happens when an ordinary girl attempts to do the right thing and returns a handbag to someone who lost it. You may never return a lost wallet ever again!

Sweet, lonely, and naïve Frances “Franci” McCullen (Chloe Grace Moretz) is trying to escape her past. A transplant from Bean Town to the Big Apple, Franci is rooming with her rich BFF Erica Penn (Maika Monroe channeling Kat Dennings from Two Broke Girls) and working at a super-swanky restaurant. She just lost her mother and leaving home, she thinks, just might do the trick in the healing process. But things radically change when she finds and returns a lost handbag belonging to a sweet old French lady named Greta Hideg (Isabelle Huppert). As Greta’s husband is deceased, they both share loneliness, so they instantly bond… like a surrogate mother & daughter.

Everything’s peachy, that is, until Franci discovers the ruse: Greta plants fake handbags to lure unsuspecting girls to her beautiful brick house. Once the jig is up, Franci pulls the plug on their relationship and thinks that’s that. Oh, Franci! (SMH) Don’t you watch movies like The Cable Guy, Cape Fear, and Fatal Attraction? You now have a deranged stalker on your hands, sweetie, and the more you try to get rid of her, the more she keeps popping up! The cops can’t help (“Sorry, she’s gots rights, too!”), her phone calls and text’s are way past annoying, and her just showing up places (what is she, an X-Men?) is just plain scary.

Finally, Franci decides to ‘play the game’ and let Greta be her friend, but her naïveté is her downfall when Greta decides to crank things up to 11. The ending is not what you expect in this movie as several twists and turns are either brilliant or have that “Yeah, I saw that coming” feel. You can blame that on screenwriters Ray Wright (The Crazies) and director Neil Jordan (The Crying Game). Jordan, as you may remember, gave the world that sucker-punch with his shocking gender-reveal in The Crying Game, so it’s safe to assume he’s at it again as this movie tries to “reveal” a bunch of shocking moments – each punctuated with a silly musical sting.

There have been many, many stalker movies, but they have pretty much have the same tropes: dumb people always doing dumb things along with implausible and laughable plot holes. C’mon, HOW many times can you knock someone out and they KEEP COMING BACK? However, I will give this script kudos for a brilliantly executed scene (I won’t give it away) that was totally unexpected and imaginative. (insert applause here).

The cast is superb too; Moretz is about as cute and fragile a millennial can be as she beautifully navigates innocence with sheer terror. Juxtaposed to her is Huppert’s frighteningly portrayal of a women gone seriously off-the-rails and making Lizzie Borden look like a Girl Scout. Monroe is there for comic relief and you have Stephen Rea in an extended cameo as a private detective. While the plot itself is more or less tepid, the acting drives the story along and that’s worth your ticket price.

**FYI: There’s a cool YouTube video about a guy who, as an experiment, dropped 200 wallets in different U.S. cities to see who would contact the owners. The results will astound you!

The Cable Guy (1996)

Ever have one of those friends? Y’know the kind? Those really annoying ones that sometimes you just wanna drive a machete through their heads just to shut them up? Yeah, I think we’ve all had ’em, but here’s a movie that takes it up a notch starring Matthew Broderick and Jim Carrey.

Steve Kovacs (Broderick) is about to have a bad day… uh, make that a very bad day. After a failed marriage proposal to his girlfriend, Robin Harris (Leslie Mann), he moves into his own apartment and, taking advice from his friend Rick (Jack Black), Steve bribes a very odd cable guy to give him free movie channels. BUT! This weird cable guy named Ernie “Chip” Douglas (Carrey) has strings attached: Steve has to hang out with him the next day and makes him one of his “preferred customers”. Big mistake!

Steve opens up to Chip about his Robin-woes (ooooh! bad idea!) and Chip takes it upon himself to “solve” this problem. Chip begins acting weirder, even running into Steve and his friends at the gym, leaving several messages on Steve’s answering machine, and intentionally sabotaged Steve’s cable so they can hang out more. This leads to one of the funniest scenes: Chip taking Steve to Medieval Times (that themed theater/restaurant), where Chip battles Steve in the arena like Captain Kirk vs Spock. Steve has had enough and spurns Chip’s friendship. Ooooh! Another bad idea there, Steve!

Things go from bad to worse as Chip, now mad at Steve, ups his game: he severely beats up Robin’s date and blames it on Steve, he installs a super expensive theater system in Steve’s apartment and then gets him arrested for stolen goods, and then Chip shows up at Steve’s family dinner party, causing a major ruckus (Sexual Password, anyone?) The finale has Chip kidnapping Robin on top of a giant satellite dish and Steve trying to rescue her. This is one dark and looney comedy, but what did you expect from the mind of Judd Apatow (The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up) and Lou Holtz, Jr. (his one & only screenplay)?

This is the only time Jim Carrey ever portrayed such a loathsome character with a definable toothy lisp. His Chip Douglas (a play on the My Three Sons TV character) is haunting, evil, sinister, and downright diabolical, something Carrey (up until this point in his film career) had never done. Needless to say, many didn’t like it. Despite it being a critical success, it failed at the box office as people weren’t used to Carrey being so unfunny. It wasn’t the script, that’s for sure, as it was a delightful and cringe-worthy dark comic nightmare. You really felt bad for Broderick’s Steve; a sign of a good screenplay, even though the third act was a trifle weak.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.