A GUY THING
When groom-to-be Paul (Jason Lee) wakes up the morning after his bucks party with a girl called Becky (Julia Stiles) in his bed, he is appalled. Especially as he was determined not to do anything he couldnít tell his fiancťe Karen (Selma Blair). Matters get worse when Karen arrives, and one small lie soon turns into a string of lies. Thereís a lot at stake because as well as his marriage, his job is also on the line: he works with Karenís father Ken (James Brolin) in the family firm. His best friend Jim (Shawn Hatosy) does everything he can to support him, but matters get worse when Beckyís ex boyfriend Ray (Lochlyn Munro) Ė a psychotically jealous crooked cop Ė appears on the scene.
Review by Louise Keller:
What could have been just another formulaic and predictable romantic comedy is elevated to an entertaining comedy of errors, mostly thanks to the stylish Julia Stiles, whose charisma and presence allows us to forgive many of the overcooked moments. Comedy always works best when played straight and not for laughs.†
The three main characters are played straight, but so many of the sideline characters are over-done and ham it up, which takes the punch out of the punch, so to speak. Thereís Beckyís ex - the manic corrupt over-the-top cop, Paulís caricature of a loose-tongued mother and step-dad, his soppy love-struck brother, the prudish, nosey minister neighbour and Karenís hoity-toity mother. These are all basically sit-com characters, and we donít connect with any of them. Some of the would-be funny scenes (like the one in the chemist shop when Paul tries to curb an embarrassing moment when the pharmacy assistant is yelling well-intentioned remedy for crabs, he introduces him to his future mother-in-law as an apprentice chef) just go one step too far, so the gag falls flat. Thatís not to say a bit of colour doesnít fare well with characters: I like the over-the-top punk with red dreadlocks and a gold front tooth and Karenís alcoholic elderly aunt who is intent to get her wine glass filled one way or another. Although thereís not much thatís original, the script plays with a few funny ideas, and thereís a pleasing soundtrack with loads of amenable tunes.†
But itís Stiles who gives a winning performance and manages to make A Guy Thing feel as though it is a better film than it actually is. Jason Lee has dropped down a peg since his good work in Chasing Amy, but works well as the stressed out guy who has always played it safe, and Selma Blair is the perfect foil as his would-be bride. I rather enjoyed James Brolinís prospective father-in-law, who balances his performance with gravitas and a wink. The fantasy scenes are fun Ė these are the moments when we see what might have been Ė in Paulís imagination. As for the title Ė well, itís about how guys protect other guys because theyíre a guy. Sort of like the First Wives Club, except itís just for guys.
Review by Richard Kuipers:
Come back, How To Lose A Guy In Ten Days, all is forgiven! You're not the worst romantic comedy of the year - this malodorous piece of cinematic garbage is. Women, according to this putrid mess, are merely feckless pieces of meat to be inspected and discarded by men as if they were returning in a four wheel drive because they didn't like the upholstery. That's the feeling given out by lame-brained hero Paul (Jason Lee), who is so pathetic he starts seriously sniffing around a hula dancer at his buck's party and falls in love with her as a rebound reaction to being dominated by his fiance Karen (Selma Blair). Why dead-end job hopper Becky (Julia Styles) would want anything to do with a grown man with the emotional maturity of a 12 year-old is anyone's guess, but here it's the basis of the whole movie. And what fun Paul's indecision about classy Karen turns out to be becauseÖwait for it, you'll never guess... Becky is (drumroll) Karen's cousin (tsshh). So poor old Paul now won't be able to avoid Becky and imagine the comic complications as they try and hide the fact they've already met. Now you'd never also suspect that Paul's boss is....Karen's dad.†
No way, get out of here, I hear you say but this film is out there on the edge so get ready for surprise after surprise as this crazy comedy of confused desire just gets more creative. But, hey, don't worry too much about Karen's dad (James Brolin, aka Mr Barbara Streisand) - it turns out he's a red-blooded man sympathetic to Paul's arrested development dilemma. Another thing you'll never guess about this sad, sad travesty is that Paul's parents are lower-middle income earners who are required to make fools of themselves at a meet and greet dinner with their rich opposite numbers. There's nothing here to laugh or feel romantic about. I could only feel pity for a wonderful actress like Julia Stiles who thought she might have increased her awareness demographic by flouncing around in a hula skirt and losing her underwear in Jason Lee's bed. There's such a cynical and nasty misogynist heart driving this film it may drive you to the exit long before it's supposed to. Even the music by ex-Devo main man Mark Mothersbaugh stinks.
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A GUY THING (M)
CAST: Jason Lee, Julia Stiles, Selma Blair, James Brolin, Shawn Hatosy, Lochlyn Munro
PRODUCER: David Ladd, David Nicksay
DIRECTOR: Chris Koch
SCRIPT: Greg Glienna, Greg Glienna, Pete Schwaba, Matt Tarses, Bill Wrubel (story by Greg Glienna)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Robbie Greenberg
EDITOR: David Moritz
MUSIC: Mark Mothersbaugh
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Dan Davis
RUNNING TIME: 103 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Fox
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: March 13, 2003
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