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The Baxter (PG-13)

Release Date: August 26th, 2005 by IFC Films.
The Cast: Michael Showalter, Elizabeth Banks, Michelle Williams, Justin Theroux,Zak Orth, Michael Ian Black, Peter Dinklage, Paul Rudd.
Directed by Michael Showalter.

BASIC PREMISE: Elliot Sherman (Showalter) is a "baxter": the last resort of every woman--including his wife-to-be (Banks)--until he meets until he meets Cecil (Williams).

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Although this film has quirky characters, it is difficult to get into it because of how irritating Showalter's performance is. His comic timing is often unfunny and simply weak, unlike Steve Carell's flat-out hilarious performance as a "loser" in The 40 Year-Old Virgin. On the other hand, the supporting actors are quite good. Elizabeth Banks gives a good performance as Caroline, Elliot's manipulative, snobby girlfriend--she is certainly not likeable, though. Michelle Williams is particularly excellent--and well cast---as the Cecil, a very charming, soft-spoken woman whose beauty is very genuine even without make-up. It takes what seems like forever for Elliot to realize how perfect she is for him. The plot has very little suspense or surprises. There are a few scenes that might have been funny if they were read in the script, but with very poor comic timing on-screen and editing, the jokes simply fall flat and even seem forced at times. For example, at one point a wedding planner (Dinklage) somehow glimpses Elliot wearing a pink thong under his pants---and in front of his wife. Why Elliot would unintentionally end up with a pink thong is just part of the bizarre plot. Obviously, the wedding planner gets the wrong idea and tries to get a date with him. With better direction and editing, many of the comic and dramatic bits would have worked.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: The message is very simple: getting rejected is not such a bad thing after all--it happens to everybody. You must have confidence and take risks in order to fall in love, even you think it's too late in the game. Unfortunately, Elliot's "baxter"ism goes overboard to extent that it is difficult to sympathize or even empathize with him. The ending is very warm, tender, and very sweet--unlike the rest of the film.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Not enough humor and the plot is predictable.


THE BOTTOM LINE: Quirky characters and a few good performances from the supporting cast don't add up to much in this comedy that simply falls flat--especially with an unconvincing and irritating main character.

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (2nd Run)

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