Case Number 18590: Small Claims Court


Phase 4 Films // 2010 // 85 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Ben Saylor (Retired) // March 25th, 2010

The Charge

A heart-warming comedy about blackmail, robbery and family values.

The Case

Good Intentions is a straight-to-DVD movie that tells the story of Etta Milford (Elaine Hendrix, Joan of Arcadia), a sassy Southern woman scraping to make ends meet. Husband Chester (Luke Perry, Angel and the Badman) runs a liquor store but is constantly frittering away the family's savings on his crackpot inventions. Increasingly frazzled by her family's circumstances, Etta decides that the only reasonable course of action is to disguise herself and hold up Chester's store. Her decision to invest her ill-gotten gains in "antique" furniture sold by the creepy Zachary (Gary Grubbs, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans) leads to consequences for herself and her family that are, unfortunately, anything but funny.

Good Intentions is a bland film that offers almost no laughs over its paltry 79-minute (sans credits) runtime. At least part of the problem lies in writer Anthony Stephenson and director Jim Issa taking the material seriously. Good Intentions might have been a semi-enjoyable dark comedy, but around the end of the second act, the filmmakers get serious: Etta changes her mind about robbing the supermarket because the leering geezer she's sticking up has put a prized Polaroid of Etta and himself up on a wall. While this is happening, Etta's children, left unattended in the family station wagon, put the car into neutral and are nearly killed. If that wasn't enough, a misunderstanding leaves Chester with the impression that Etta and Zachary have been fooling around, and there's even some heart-to-heart conversation between Etta and her sister (LeAnn Rimes), as well as a time-wasting subplot involving the latter's strip club-loving boyfriend (Jimmi Simpson, Zodiac) and his inability to commit.

That everything is resolved and wrapped up in a nice, pretty bow for all involved (complete with a dubious lesson about wives trusting their money-wasting inventor husbands) should hardly come as a surprise. Whether you'll care about said happy ending, however, is anyone's guess. Hendrix puts a lot of energy into her role, but the performance feels mannered after a while. Perry's character isn't given much to do but complain, which the actor does well enough. Otherwise, nearly every character is thinly written and broadly portrayed, which leads into another problem with the film: the script's laziness and lack of originality. In Good Intentions, the police force are lazy and/or inept, one character wears a T-shirt that says "got guns?," etc. No one in the town is particularly smart; of the characters in the film, only Zachary figures out that Etta is the one committing the robberies, as she turns up at his store with wads of cash after each robbery. Why Chester never suspects her (if nothing else, wouldn't he recognize the very unique gun used by Etta in the robberies?) is beyond me.

Phase 4's DVD of Good Intentions is pretty solid on tech specs; the image looks very bright and clear for the most part, and the sound deftly handles the film's music, dialogue and effects. The biggest extra is a feature commentary with director Jim Issa and producers Richard Sampson and Pamela Peacock. It's a steady discussion that spends a lot of time on the challenges of shooting an independent film on location, so it's actually a decent listen. There's also a five-minute collection of cast interviews that may contain more scenes from the movie than actual interviews, as well as a photo gallery and the film's trailer. The packaging puts Rimes front-and-center, although the "Can't Fight the Moonlight" chanteuse has scanty screentime.

The Verdict

Good Intentions notwithstanding, this movie is guilty.

Review content copyright © 2010 Ben Saylor; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 70

Perp Profile
Studio: Phase 4 Films
Video Formats:
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)

* Spanish

Running Time: 85 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13

Distinguishing Marks
* Commentary
* Interviews
* Photo Gallery
* Trailer

* IMDb