Once, you’re a New Yorker, the city never truly loses its grip on you. This is a truth that shines through clearly in Nice Guy Johnny. Johnny is a former New Yorker, currently living in California with his controlling fiancé, barely getting by on his salary as a sports radio talk-show host. He comes back to New York for a job interview at a warehouse that she’s set up, but he has no desire to go. As he awaits the interview, Johnny grapples with the dilemma of pursuing his personal dreams as a sports radio broadcaster or leading a life of comfort and relative stability in a boring, but well-paid job.
It’s a classic New York City question: take money and a life of boredom or limited funds and the pursuit of passions. Countless NYC residents are faced with the same problem on a daily basis. The city is home to over 22 million people, from different socioeconomic backgrounds all over the world. We’re all brought together by the city’s promise of happiness, however the reality can be far less glamorous. Some find the success they’ve dreamed of, but an equal amount find that their hard work doesn’t pay off as quickly as they’d hoped. This makes the city a place that is simultaneously inspiring and heart-wrenching, full of as much glitz and glamour as beaten down dreams. When reality rushes up to meet us, we’re all faced with the question of whether or not to keep pursuing our passions or put them behind us in exchange for money and security. Just like Johnny, the average New Yorker must decide whether it’s worth pushing onward if they have to forgo the comforts of life they’ve grown accustomed to.
It’s a dilemma that faces both native New Yorkers and transplants alike. Although the two parties generally approach the idea from different angles, the ideology is strikingly similar. This is evident in Johnny’s life as well. As he weighs the pros and cons, he gets advice from both the born native and the enthusiastic transplant. His uncle Terry is the epitome of a brashly honest, native New Yorker. He’s opinionated, out-spoken and pulls no punches. He urges Johnny to take advantage of every opportunity the world gives him by emphasizing the importance of freedom at all costs. While the soft-spoken Brooke, an out-of-towner new to the city, urges Johnny to not simply focus on taking, but preserving. Specifically, she wants him to understand what his dreams are and follow them above all else. Whether their main concern is maintaining control of his life or his optimism, their advice leads to the same end.
Their pleas to Johnny present the struggle of residents in New York City. Some of us look at our dilemmas in terms of preserving our freedom of choice. Others approach these quandaries more idealistically, focused on keeping hold of their dreams and optimism even in the face of harsh realities. However we come to the situation, we all hope to end up true to ourselves. When Johnny ultimately decides to reject his fiancé’s wishes and pursue his passion over her plan, both sides of him come together — his thirst for control of his own life and his desire to preserve his dreams. In the end, he acts in the truest sense of the New Yorker he is, refusing to give up on the life that he really wants.