** and 1/2 out of ****
The first part of The Good Lie is harrowing as it shows a group of Sudanese children lose parents and siblings to civil war. Once orphaned, they are hunted by rebel soldiers and face starvation. Four of the children survive a long journey to a Kenyan refugee camp. After reaching adulthood, the four of them (Arnold Oceng, Ger Duany, Emmanuel Jal and Kuoth Wiel, all very good) are given the opportunity to resettle in America.
When they get to the United States, it's a culture shock. This is where Reese Witherspoon shows up, in a nice supporting turn, as their employment counselor. The film plays well when it goes for the serious stressful moments of their new life - there are faint echoes of Werner Herzog's Stroszek (1977) – but this is undercut by too many cutesy moments and easy solutions.
During the scenes in America, the film rushes itself through situation after situation, as if the studio demanded the film be trimmed down to under a two-hour running time. This really cripples the drama of the story.
If The Good Lie had tapered some of the humor and let the second half play out longer, it could have been a great movie instead of just a passable one.