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By Merle Bertrand | February 12, 2001

No one leaves the rural Kansas town without passing through Zach Mean’s (Wil Wheaton) toll booth on the Kansas Turnpike. It’s from this post, so remote that Zach has time to play “Battleship” with one of the regulars every morning, that the former high school jock struggles with a choice: either leave town and see the world, or stay put and be content to let the world pass him by one car at a time.
Today is an especially tough day for Zach, however, and not just because he has to re-paint the “Stop” stripe on the road. Today’s the day his ex-girlfriend is marrying his ex-best friend…and a heartbroken Zach stubbornly refuses to attend the wedding. He knows, after all, that they’ll have to pass by on the way to their honeymoon…because no one leaves town without passing through his booth.
Director Seth Wiley’s “The Good Things” presents a stellar parade of memorable travelers — unique characters which proceed to land in Zach’s patient lap. Wheaton is easily up to the task. Finally growing out of his squeaky clean Wesley Crusher persona, his Zach comes across as just scruffy enough, yet still suitably baby-faced, to pass as a character who relives recently past glories from the safety of a toll booth.
If Wiley’s simple yet sublime film burnishes Wheaton’s image, it flat-out makes a star of its beautifully isolated Kansas landscape. In much the same way that cheese makes anything taste good, there’s nothing like a gorgeous golden hour sunset to make even the Kansas flatlands look appealing.
Cap this excellent film off with a surprising, almost unbearably poignant ending, and “The Good Things” is all that and more.

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