We’ve all been misled by a movie trailer at one time or another.
They’re designed to grab our attention with clips and quips, and they usually succeed. But don’t fall prey to the one for “The Good House” (Roadside Attractions), starring Sigourney Weaver, which gives the impression that it’s the kind of rom-com Diane Keaton or Meryl Streep would have made with Nancy Meyers. Weaver, whom we all know is a more than capable comedic actress, deftly handles the few comedic scenes here, but this movie is much more serious than expected.
Hildy Good (Weaver, who is the best part of the movie) is a native of fictional Wendover, Massachusetts, a North Shore suburb of Boston not far from Beverly. Her family has lived there for almost 300 years, and she is a descendant of Sarah Good, one of the first accused witches in Salem. Hildy also has a reputation for her own paranormal abilities.
She’s also an alcoholic real estate broker with a failing business. She’s losing her knack for manipulating potential buyers with her sales pitches, including bragging that Wendover has the “best damn view of the North Shore of Boston.” Her relationships with her adult daughters Tess (Rebecca Henderson) and Emily (Molly Brown) also suffer, especially after an intervention that sends Hildy off to an unsuccessful rehab stint.
The one potential bright light in her life is a possible rekindling of affection with Frank (Kevin Kline reunited with Weaver for the first time since 1997’s “The Ice Storm”), a townie like Hildy. Her interest in him is threefold. Frank is a successful contractor/maintenance man and has done work for Hildy over the years. He owns a waterfront lot in which a Boston lawyer has expressed interest, and Hildy would like to make the sale. Last, but not least, he’s single, and they have unfinished business of an intimate nature.
Gay filmmaker Thomas Bezucha (the brilliant “Big Eden”), who co-wrote the screenplay with the movie’s co-directors Maya Forbes and Wally Wolodarsky, tries to inject some queerness into the story (Hildy’s ex-husband Scott, played by David Rasche, is gay), but it feels calculated. As does Hildy’s constant breaking down of the fourth wall. The screenplay, based on Ann Leary’s novel, is also overloaded with all sorts of hot-button issues, including autism, marital infidelity, family history of depression, suicide, and more.
Gregg Shapiro is the author of eight books including the poetry chapbook Fear of Muses (Souvenir Spoon Books, 2022). An entertainment journalist, whose interviews and reviews run in a variety of regional LGBTQ+ and mainstream publications and websites, Shapiro lives in Fort Lauderdale with his husband Rick and their dog Coco.