The GoodTimesKid is a film that has it all — deadpan simplicity, whimsical heartbreak, drawn-on mustaches.
It wears its influences on its sleeve; there’s a little French New Wave, a generous dash of Chaplin-esque physical humor, and plenty of DIY indie work ethic, but The GoodTimesKid isn’t just an amalgam of types. It thrives on its own undeniable comedic charm. Free-form, but not aimless, it’s poetic, but not at the expense of a fairly strong narrative — and a captivating one at that.
Writer/director Azazel Jacobs’ father, Ken Jacobs, is an important figure in the American underground cinema movement, but The GoodTimesKid only hints at the avant-garde. It’s more concerned with small pleasures than the wildly experimental. And what a pleasure it is to share in the coincidental interaction between journalist-turned-slacker Rodolfo Cano (Jacobs himself), his girlfriend Diaz (Sara Diaz), and another guy named Rodolfo Cano (Gerardo Naranjo, who also co-wrote the script), whose only connection to the pair is the identical name — a fact he learns only after receiving a letter by mistake telling him to report for Army duty.
He didn’t enlist; Rodolfo I did in an apparent effort to do something different with his life. Diaz tells him she wants their relationship to start over, but he’s on a different trajectory, abandoning her on his birthday to commit random acts of vandalism and get his ass kicked in some dive.
Rodolfo II finds himself caught up between these two when he follows Rodolfo I from the army recruitment center to his and Diaz’s home. Before long, he’s taken off again, leaving Rodolfo II to easily fall in with Diaz, whose heart is clearly breaking, but finds a way to manage hilarious feats of whimsy throughout the film.
Her irrepressible charm is perfectly exemplified in a scene that is astonishing both for how funny it is and how perfectly it sums up the film’s sensibility. One minute, she’s attacking her refrigerator, hands covered in frosting from Rodolfo’s demolished birthday cake; the next, cheered by Rodolfo II’s commiseration, she’s dancing a jig in her kitchen in an unforgettable display of off-kilter exuberance. It’s no surprise a frame from this scene adorns the DVD cover — whomever or whatever the titular GoodTimesKid refers to, this certainly captures the spirit of it.