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By Jamie Tipps | January 23, 2008

I have to admit: I love “Good Dick.”

Before you get too excited, you should know that the tawdry title is rather misleading; there’s not a scrap of nudity in the entire thing. But don’t despair; what we get is much, much better. In the vast wasteland of romantic comedies, this lovely film defies the tired genre.

When a disheveled young woman (Marianna Palka) checks out a stack of erotica from her local video store, she catches the eye of the clerk (Jason Ritter) checking out her DVDs. He breaks the porn-renting taboo by trying to chat her up, and the fact that his attempts at conversation are met with utter distain isn’t enough to stop his pursuit.

And so begins an unlikely courtship. Ritter steals her address from the store computer and shows up at her doorstep, an offering of porn in hand, and mounts a dogged campaign to win her affection. However, his sunny optimism is more than matched by Palka’s detached aloofness, and her sharp tongue and dry wit rebuff him at every turn. Nevertheless, they begin the slow process of moving into each other’s life, building a friendship, and taking the tentative first steps toward intimacy.

The road, as you’d expect, is a rocky one. Palka’s character is beautiful but definitely broken. A virtual shut-in, she subsists on steady diet of Starbucks, fast food and campy skin flicks. Ritter’s character basically appoints himself her caretaker, cleaning, cooking, and chipping away at her frigidity.

And Palka is not unworthy of such adoration; her extreme introversion and caustic behavior belies an offbeat sense of humor and vulnerability.

While writer-director-actress Palka does a stunning job, it’s Ritter who steals the show. In this role, he is an absolute delight, thank god, because in lesser hands his stalker behavior would merit a restraining order. Not since Lloyd Dobbler raised a boombox above his head has there been such a stand-up guy on the screen: charming, patient, and completely devoted. He is so handsome and affable that initially it’s hard to understand his instant attraction to Palka, but we soon discover that he has his own damage lurking beneath the surface which draws him to her. As an unconventional romance, this extremely funny film handles its dark subject matter with grace.

I am going to say it: everyone should experience “Good Dick.”

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