Review: GOOD GUY WITH A PUN - A Film With A Heart of Positivity

The award-winning TV pilot is on its way to the film festival circuit.

By: May. 22, 2024
Review: GOOD GUY WITH A PUN - A Film With A Heart of Positivity
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Necessity is the mother of invention (so said Plato), and so it has been for filmmaker Dmitry Milkin. When COVID locked down people’s lives, artists like Milkin kept the doors of perception and creativity wide open. During down times, Mother Necessity called for flights of imagination, one of which escalated into Milkin’s thoughtful, amusing, and touching TV pilot, entitled, GOOD GUY WITH A PUN. For his effort, he has been rewarded with the distinction of Best Writer in SeriesFest’s category of BEST OF DIGITAL SHORT SERIES.

By the way…no surprise to this writer, who has praised Milkin’s ability to vividly capture moments of emotion and humanity in short films like Curpigeon and For Sale: Baby Shoes, Never Worn.

For those unfamiliar with SeriesFest, the Denver-based nonprofit organization, founded by Randi Kleiner and Kaily Smith, is “committed to celebrating artists in episodic storytelling.” Its program “culminates in a highly curated and celebrated Denver-based festival and marketplace.” (This year’s festival ~ Season 10 ~ was held from May 1st to the 5th in Denver.)

The back story of the making of this 24-minute independent pilot is remarkable and inspiring in itself. When the world shut down and jobs expired because of the pandemic, creative minds searched for creative outlets. Not for nothing and thanks to the gods of serendipity, Milkin’s positivity and tenacity throughout this period paid off.

In a nutshell ~ Milkin and his wife had attended the March 11th 2020 matinee performance of the National Tour of Hamilton at San Francisco’s Orpheum Theatre. They were wowed by Julius Thomas III’s performance as Alexander Hamilton, enough so that Milkin was eager to connect with him. But, that was the fateful day on which the pandemic was announced, Broadway’s lights dimmed, and actors bowed to their final performance. It took two years before the two connected, bonded, and collaborated in the making of GOOD GUY WITH A PUN.

Review: GOOD GUY WITH A PUN - A Film With A Heart of Positivity

Thomas plays the role of the good guy, Billy Brown. a former child star, angling to recapture his long-gone celebrity by becoming a popular presence on Instagram. There, with panache and a flair for storytelling, he documents the moments of his daily life. If COVID caused social distancing, Billy’s mission is to use IG for social connectedness and uplift. Ironically, his commitment to his fans has literally distanced him from his wife Amanda and daughter Jane (Zani Jones Mbayise).

Nevertheless, Billy has purpose…and Billy has attitude…loads of attitude…and loads of hope. And, with near-missionary zeal, he accentuates his “somewhere over the rainbow” optimism with frequent exhortations to his audience to KEEP IT POSITIVE. As IG visitors (played by a happy assortment of popular performing artists) come and go, inquiring about Billy’s progress in getting a reboot of the show, there may not yet be good news, but there’s always Billy’s shoutout for KIP.

Opportunity knocks when Billy foils a mass shooting at a local grocery store, becomes the Bay Area’s hero, and rises to the renewed attention of his vape-smoking and gushing-in-Manhattanese agent, Pinky Pomroy (played to the laugh-out-loud hilt by Pamela Shaw of Indigo Lake and Lucky Stiff fame). She has arranged for what could be a life-changing interview with studio big shots. Now, Billy has a shot at reviving his 90s family sitcom, Anyone’s Guess, in which he plays the role of Pete Pete, a seemingly happy-go-lucky fellow with an adventurous spirit.

Life throws a curve at Billy when Jane shows up at the studio ~ unexpectedly, distressed, and in need of fatherly TLC ~ just as Billy is wiring up for the big interview. At that moment, keeping it positive becomes something more than Billy’s mantra; it is an invitation for Billy to reckon with priorities and deal with the cost involved in choosing between two positives.

And here, as he has done in his other films, Milkin finds a way to grab at our hearts and explore the things in life that matter. Fortunately, he found in Thomas the perfect agent to carry the show’s message.  

Thomas is a charismatic figure on stage and on film. In GOOD GUY WITH A PUN, that quality translates into a nuanced portrayal that is rich with warmth, charm, finesse, and infectious energy. He invites the viewer to join in rooting for Billy and for the fulfillment of his aspirations.

Where human contact and storytelling have relocated from the public square to social media and viral outlets like Instagram, we need reminders like this of our vital need for meaningful personal connectedness and empathy.

Milkin has said that the pilot is a story about resilience and positivity in a digital age. Indeed, it is… and then something more. GOOD GUY WITH A PUN is an engaging and revelatory narrative about an endearing character whose story line we are eager to follow.

Other featured performers include Arielle Kebbel, Tiffany Denise Hobbs, Terrell Butler, Sasha Feldman, Grant Rosenmeyer, and Margaret Cho. 

Current plans for GOOD GUY WITH A PUN involve runs in the film festival circuit and eventually on Instagram.

Graphic credit to Granata Films

Granata Films ~

Photo credit to Joan Marcus ~ L to R: Julia K. Harriman and Julius Thomas III in Hamilton at SHN’s Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco, March 2020


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