Case Number 09634: Small Claims Court


Lunacy Productions // 1999 // 92 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Chief Counsel Rob Lineberger (Retired) // July 7th, 2006

The Charge

Casual Sex Just Makes For Casual Enemies.

The Case

First time writer-director Stu Pollard does one thing perfectly: He captures the character of horse country. His Louisville comes across through a hyper-real sense of the foibles and strengths of life in Kentucky. From the diehard fanaticism of basketball fans to the inescapable vortex of county music on the radio, touches of Kentucky culture permeate the film. Pollard is balanced in his depiction, showing the bemusement and distaste of an outsider's perspective on bluegrass land while quietly embracing the core of his native culture. My only complaint is a lack of Ale 8.

As for the rest of it, Nice Guys Sleep Alone is mixed. I tested this film under the best of circumstances: After a date with my wife, relaxing on the couch, where practically any movie would strike us as romantic. It had the opposite effect.

Nice Guys Sleep Alone details the dating misadventures of Carter (Sean O'Bryan, Raising Helen), who is so nice that gals pigeonhole him as friend material. His best friend Pat (Blake Steury) urges Carter to be a little nastier. This would suit Carter's stepsister, Erin (a red hot Vanessa Marcil, The Rock), just fine. She desperately wants to bone Carter, and maybe even have a relationship with him. But Carter has eyes for a recently transplanted horse vet named Maggie (Sybil Temtchine, The Sweetest Thing). Maggie is having difficulty adjusting to Kentucky, and just needs a nice guy to extend her a little courtesy. Pair this with Carter's new crusade to be a little nastier, and you see where the trainwreck will occur.

Pollard gets points for breaking out of the standard romantic comedy mold. The "boy meets, loses, and gets back girl" plot is subdued somewhat in favor of an extended buildup to their first date. There are no wacky misunderstandings (though Pollard plays with us by suggesting likely mixups throughout the movie). There are no corny scenes of big crowds watching the lovebirds hook up. Nice Guys Sleep Alone is a quieter, more intimate film than that. It is an examination of why thirtysomethings wind up lonely when they should be in a relationship. Pollard includes enough piercing insights to make many of the scenes feel real to anyone who has dated recently. For this alone, it will find an enthusiastic audience.

Oddly enough, the downfall of Nice Guys Sleep Alone is its frantic surrealism. Several scenes are killed by forays into absurdity that set my teeth on edge. From a freakish "relationship lawyer" to the antics of Carter's friend Pat, Nice Guys Sleep Alone kept revealing a manic edge that derailed its quietly building romantic tension. The low point for me was a phone call where Carter asks Maggie out for a date. It could have been warm and endearing, but was punctuated by lengthy interventions from Pat. Third wheels are never a good idea.

Whether because of this pacing discontinuity or simple poor chemistry, Carter and Maggie never find much heat together. It is there in enough trace amounts to make you want to see more, but the payoff never comes. This obstacle could be overcome were it not for Vanessa Marcil's rampage through the picture. Her Erin is so vibrantly sexual that waves of heat emanate from the screen. She and Carter find chemistry, and the six months that they were step-siblings is hardly reason enough to forestall a relationship. Because she is so obviously available, compatible, and intensely hot, Carter's demurral is inexcusable. "Hey, I know I can't get a woman to save my life, and I know you are intensely hot for me, but no thanks."

Given the vintage of this DVD release, Nice Guys Sleep Alone has a particularly impressive slate of extras. The commentary is engaging and provides a decent peek into making an independent film. The deleted scenes are actually interesting for once, though the behind the scenes featurette is pretty standard fare. Throw in outtakes, a trailer, and a director's introduction, you've got one thorough extras package for a five-year-old release.

Like many DVDs of the time, Nice Guys Sleep Alone is non-anamorphic. Even so, the print is in good shape. The transfer is reasonably detailed and has nice color saturation. The audio track didn't distinguish itself, either for good or bad. It carried the dialogue, and otherwise I don't have much else to say on that point.

The bottom line is that people familiar with Kentucky life (from either side of the coin) and modern dating politics will find Pollard's study apt and amusing. Despite noble efforts from the cast, the romantic fireworks are too subdued to make this a winning romantic comedy (though I'll admit I don't fully grasp the nuances of the genre). If you dislike the standard romantic comedy and don't mind forays into the absurd, Nice Guys Sleep Alone is worth a shot.

Review content copyright © 2006 Rob Lineberger; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 71

Perp Profile
Studio: Lunacy Productions
Video Formats:
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)

* None

Running Time: 92 Minutes
Release Year: 1999
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks
* Director's Introduction
* Audio Commentary by Director Stu Pollard and Actor Sean O'Bryan
* Behind The Scenes Featurette
* Deleted Scenes
* Outtakes
* Theatrical Trailer

* IMDb