JT vs. The Good Guys (2012) – By Jon Reino

JT is bad-ass, he’ll even tell you so, or he might make you tell him… JT vs. The Good Guys is a short film about JT and his ego versus everyone else and their disdain for him. It’s an interesting look at the typical high school bully from the perspective of the bully rather than his victims. The film also manages to evoke a lot of emotion from the viewer in it’s short twelve minute run time, blending a generous mix of drama and comedy with a dash of intensity for good measure.

The film opens with a shot of JT standing with his friends, trying to get one of them to say that he is bad ass. This shot asserts the theme of his ego, as well as the fact that the others are pretty tired of the way he acts. The shot is low and JT is farther away, making him appear small in comparison to the others regardless of him acting like the alpha-male. This single shot is fantastic because it lays the cinematic foundation for the entire film, and the message the simple blocking sends is accurate and effective. It then moves to shots of trees with a voice over of JT explaining to his friend what makes him bad-ass, then cuts to them messing around with a Frisbee just before JT slaps him. His stupid comments that follow definitely show that he is not the brightest bully, though they are rarely all that bright. When he sees the girl he likes he becomes defensive, threatening to crack his friends skull open if he talks about him behind his back. This girl ends up being the driving force behind his bullying and his actions against an artsy boy who likes her become the motivation for all the kids to take action against JT. The title is very fitting, because by the end of the film it truly is JT vs. everyone, but I actually began to wonder at a few points who the good guys really are, but rather than ruin the ending for you I suggest you see it for yourselves.

The film is shot beautifully, with the exception of more that a few shots where the camera loses focus on the character and takes a few seconds to be sharp again. This pretty much only happens in the first half or so and is definitely forgivable. Other than that one tiny hiccup this is a very tight and well made film. The shots are beautiful and artistic, their use of slow motion aids in the storytelling rather than just being a random effect, and the score is unique and creative. The score consists mostly of intense and surprisingly well fitting orchestra pieces, one might not expect a film about a bully to have such a classical soundscape but it works perfectly. This film is an overall package rivaling big budget features in quality, and a true competitor for this years major festival circuit.

The actors are well cast and their dialog feels natural unscripted, and the cinema verite style of it makes the viewer feel as if they are just watching a group of teenagers hanging out after school. In fact, I would say the acting is far above average. The only problem is the occasional disembodied voice saying something random from off camera. They always say something relevant to what is going on but it is unnecessary and a little distracting. The sound design is flawless and the dialog is clean without issues.

JT vs. The Good Guys is a beautiful and cinematic short that is dramatic, funny, and intense, all with a tight story and very complete package. It is a dynamic film that keeps you interested from start to finish, never feels boring, and is a high quality piece of short cinema. Filmmaker Chris Shimojima has already seen considerable success with his last film, Madeleine Zabel, and his work on the web-series, Downsized, and I do not expect him to go anywhere but up in the coming years. This film will be making it’s way through the festival circuit this year so my suggestion to you is to watch this film on it’s official website before it disappears. Go to jtvsthegoodguys.com to get more info on the cast and crew. Also rate it on IMDB at http://akas.imdb.com/title/tt2231315.  If you’d like to check out the film for yourself, you can send an e-mail promethiumpictures@gmail.com for the link and password to watch the full film. Now go and watch it before I crack open your skull!