Unless your name happens to be Jennifer Lawrence, it’s incredibly hard to break free from the shackles of a blockbuster movie franchise based on a series of novels targeting young adults.
With few exceptions, those roles will define an actor, if not forever, then at least for a mighty long time, so it’s vital to show audiences another side of oneself.
That’s one of the reasons why “Harry Potter’s” Daniel Radcliffe portrayed a flatulent corpse in last year’s “Swiss Army Man.” And it’s surely why “Twilight’s” Robert Pattinson is playing a low-rent criminal, desperate to get his brother out of jail, in “Good Time.” Either that or maybe he just got bored and wanted to see what he looked like as a peroxide blond.
Constantine “Connie” Nikas (Pattinson) busts his mentally challenged brother, Nick (co-director Benny Safdie), out of a psychiatric evaluation because he needs help knocking over a bank. In the post-robbery confusion, Connie outruns Nick, leaving him behind to crash through a glass door and end up at Rikers Island, where he’s beaten to a pulp for changing the TV channel.
Despite his not keeping an eye on Nick during the getaway, Connie cares deeply for his brother and embarks on a bizarre all-night quest to come up with $10,000 to bail him out.
It begins with his visiting Corey (the what-is-she-doing-here Jennifer Jason Leigh), his addled friend or possible friend with benefits, who’s obsessed with the idea of them going to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and won’t stop howling at her mother, whose credit cards she abuses mercilessly.
It includes hiding out with a grandmother (Gladys Mathon) he meets on a bus. Connie immediately makes himself at home, dying his hair, taking over a spare room, asking for chicken nuggets and, most disturbingly, making out with her 16-year-old granddaughter (portrayed by 16-year-old Taliah Webster).
And the night comes to a maddening boil with the arrival of recent parolee Ray (Buddy Duress), aka the least quiet man on the planet. No matter how desperately Connie and Ray need to keep silent, Yelly McLoud will have none of that. Whether hiding out or searching for the liquid LSD he stashed in a haunted house, Holler von Rawthroat flat out refuses to use his inside voice.
Between Corey wailing at her mom, Shouty del Migraine’s entire existence and a large dog that simply will not stop barking, the majority of “Good Time” sounds as though it’s taking place inside a blender at Electric Daisy Carnival.
“Good Time” isn’t helped by the script, from Ronald Bronstein and co-director Josh Safdie, which gives Cacophony Van Der Scream one of those out-of-nowhere monologues that’s a bad knockoff of the ones that Quentin Tarantino often writes for himself. Actor Duress, by comparison, makes Tarantino look like Daniel Day-Lewis.
As “Good Time” becomes less and less likely to live up to its name, Pattinson’s Connie grows increasingly desperate and reckless.
Even without the hastily dyed hair and hoodies, though, Pattinson is nearly unrecognizable. And as infuriating as the movie can be, he proves a good enough actor to disappear into the underwritten role.
Much to Pattinson’s credit, I didn’t think about sparkly vampires or sullen teenagers once during “Good Time.”
But my mind did wander while I tried to mentally locate the nearest aspirin.
Contact Christopher Lawrence at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-4567. Follow @life_onthecouch on Twitter.
Movie: “Good Time”
Running time: 100 minutes
Rating: R; language throughout, violence, drug use and sexual content
Now playing: At multiple locations