James Franco, I want to like you, I don’t know why, but I do. You were alright as Daniel Desario on “Freaks and Geeks.” You were no Bill Haverchuck, but you held your own. I couldn’t of cared less for your role in “Spiderman,” but you really pulled your shit together and knocked one out of the park as the lovably dopey stoner, Saul Silver, in “Pineapple Express.” Even though you haven’t dazzled me, for some reason I’ve been keeping my fingers crossed. But after watching “Good Time Max,” the movie that you co-wrote and directed, I’m throwing in the towel.
“Good Time Max” is a movie about two brothers. Older brother Adam works really hard in school and gets good grades, while younger brother Max prefers to smoke cigarettes and dance on rooftops… and still gets good grades. Alright, skip ahead about 20 years. Max is hard at work dealing drugs until he pisses of the wrong huge black dude by selling him a bogus kilo of cocaine (and also sleeping with his girlfriend). After Max becomes an accessory to murder, he hightails it to California, hitching a ride with his brother Adam who is bound for med school. It doesn’t take a genius to see where this movie’s going. There’s a lot of built up resentment on the part of Adam, because all of his life he’s had to bail out his dickhead brother, and there’s just as much resentment on the part of Max, who just wants to be loved. The two fight inner demons, fight with each other, and eventually learn a thing or two about life and the importance of brotherhood.
If i didn’t know any better, I would have assumed the part of Max was written by a nine-year old. Max is handsome, liked by everybody, and is always the life of the party, but to top it all off he’s also a certified genius. Franco really drives this point home too as he solves moderately difficult math equations (like 36 times 24), lands himself a cushy job writing computer code, and constantly states, “I am a genius.” This would all be fine if it ever went anywhere, but it doesn’t. The genius aspect is completely irrelevant, and though we’re all supposed to connect or relate with Max, I couldn’t feel anything but contempt and annoyance with him, from beginning to end. I think James Franco tried his best, but like swimming against a rip tide, the harder he tried, the worse the situation got.
The cover of “Good Time Max” shows that it was an official selection at the Tribeca, Hollywood, Vancouver, and Austin film festivals, as if having those emblems on the cover will convince you that it is worth watching. I honestly feel that James Franco made this movie in an attempt to grasp hold of some lost indie credit that he never had in the first place. It’s like he pulled a indie movie all-nighter and woke up the next morning thinking to himself, “I could do that.” But he wasn’t going to undertake this challenge alone, so he called up indie darling Merriwether Williams (of Nickelodeon’s Spongebob Squarepants and Camp Lazlo fame) to crank out an indie film to end all indie films. It’s not surprising that Merriwether’s only writing experience has been in cartoons, because “Good Time Max” ends up feeling like one big, long, boring live action cartoon.
Don’t waste your time with “Good Time Max.”
I give Good Time Max: an F+ (way to go, genius)