So I rented Good Time Max tonight, co-written, directed by and staring James Franco. Not going to lie, Franco's general dreaminess is the sole reason that I was interested in the film in the first place. Check out the trailer and my review below:
Good Time Max directed by James Franco who co-wrote with Merriwether Williams stars Franco and Matt Bell as two genius brothers who have taken very different paths in life. Franco plays the titular Max who has natural talents for academics and getting in trouble. After getting busted ripping off a drug dealer Max clings to his brother Adam's (Bell) moving to California for a medical residency as his way out of trouble. Trying to get clean and lead a productive life Max quickly gives into temptation and soon is mixed up in peddling crystal meth. Adam pursues his career as a doctor but he too eventually succumbs to temptations of his own.
The film's rather simplistic plot is anchored by the two strong performances of the leads that sometimes allow it to elevate to something more, but as a whole it never quite catches on. The film as a whole doesn't quite work as a cautionary tale or redemption story, though seemingly strives to be both. It is established early on that both brothers are geniuses and I couldn't help but wish that would have been dealt with more. The parallel of addiction between the brothers comes as a subplot that is too little too late. The ending does seem to be hinting that the accumulative pressure that comes with being identified as a "genius" too early in life could have caused the problems the brothers face is intriguing, but the film mostly ignores those complications.
Good Time Max is a huge improvement though over the last film I saw that Franco wrote and directed, which was the abysmal dramedy The Ape. Franco, who studies fiction and creative writing, does show quite a bit of promise as both a writer and director, but still is rather green at both. The dialogue of the film seems particularly strong in being naturalistic, but story itself just doesn't have that much going on. I found the characterizations of the brothers far more interesting than the drug plot that dominated the film. As a whole it would be worth renting if you are a fan of Franco, but otherwise it may be wiser to wait for his next endeavor.