Note: This review has been re-published on Devtome.
Good For Nothing (2011)
Directed by Mike Wallis
Good For Nothing is an unusual Western -one that veers back and forth between seriousness and deadpan comedy. Judging by some of the reviews on Netflix, the comedy part went right over the heads of many viewers.
I’m not sure how this was possible, as having a tough gunfighter with a case of erectile dysfunction would seem to be a clue that this movie isn’t exactly a straightforward Western. Perhaps it’s true that Americans have no sense of irony?
Good For Nothing was filmed in New Zealand, though many of the scenes looked like they could have been from Colorado or Wyoming. It stars Cohen Holloway as the ruthless, steely eyed outlaw whose name is never mentioned –obviously a reference to Clint Eastwood films such as High Plains Drifter (Holloway does a pretty decent Eastwood impression with his perpetual squint as well).
Inge Rademeyer plays Isabella, a prim and proper Englishwoman who arrives in the wild west to visit an uncle’s ranch. No sooner does she set foot in a saloon than a gunfight erupts and she is abducted by the savage and mostly silent gunfighter.
The rest of the film revisits the usual cliches of Westerns. When the man kills a sheriff, a posse of misfits sets out to kill him. The towns in Good For Nothing are like ones you’ve seen a hundred times before (assuming you’ve seen that many Westerns, that is), only more so. Everyone is staggering around drunk, firing a gun or glaring menacingly around the room.
The unlikely couple never exactly bond, but their relationship turns somewhat symbiotic. At some point, Isabella recognizes that she has nowhere to run, and the posse is out to kill her as well as the outlaw. While on the run, he seeks a cure for his embarrassing condition, first from a Chinese doctor and then from an Indian medicine man with less than stellar results.
Good For Nothing was not created to be a crowd pleaser. It’s too slow paced to satisfy action fans. The humor is extremely dry and subtle — one exception is a scene where two inept gunfighters fire and miss at each other until one is finally killed. It is definitely not, however, Blazing Saddles.
The panoramic scenes of the wide open country and the occasionally graphic violence prevent it from being an out and out comedy. It also isn’t going to win any points for political correctness. The casually brutal way that the man treats his captive for most of the film is likely to offend many viewers, especially since he is portrayed as at least borderline sympathetic by the end.
Overall, Good For Nothing is a well acted, often interesting and offbeat but ultimately not very memorable entry in an ever popular genre.