January 30, 2003

It's a Dumb Thing

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If you don’t care for jokes about infidelity, marijuana, diarrhea, dirty underwear or crabs (and I don’t mean the sea animals) then you’re most likely a girl, because the aforementioned shenanigans and more are probed in the latest of a recent string of date movies. This one, called A Guy Thing, is a sometimes humorous, breezy distraction starring Jason Lee and Julia Stiles, directed by Chris Koch.

Most should be able to recognize Lee from his leading slacker roles in Kevin Smith’s Chasing Amy, Dogma and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. But don’t let that pedigree fool you. For some reason, Lee has been trying to tackle the title of Hollywood leading man. Thanks to A Guy Thing, he may stumble into it, unfortunately.

Lee plays Paul Morse or more importantly, Everyman. With the half-smirk smile and the goofy, shy laugh, Lee’s Paul is more likable than Mr. Rogers and his whole freakin’ neighborhood. Koch and the screenwriters then throw Paul into every possible compromising situation which frames the Something Wild-like story. The kick in the head is, Lee actually makes the movie work to some extent with the help of his equally talented co-stars.

The story begins with Mr. Morse being dragged to his own bachelor party by his devoted buds. There he meets Becky, comfortably played by Stiles, who’s a Tiki-dancer at the restaurant where the group is celebrating. Her blondness and charm catch the about-to-be-married Paul totally off guard and the next morning he finds himself asleep next to her.

Frightened by the thought of getting caught by his uptight girlfriend, Karen, played by Selma Blair (extending herself from the part of the uptight girlfriend in Legally Blonde) he rushes Becky out the door with her grass hula skirt blowing in the wind. Naturally, he thinks he’s never going to see this girl again. Right.

Later on, after an early and embarrassing sequence of events, Paul finds himself at a family dinner where he encounters, cue the violins, Becky, who the audience finds out is actually Karen’s cousin. Oh the drama! Or not, as the audience then discovers that Paul and Becky never slept together.

As you can imagine, Paul and Becky then are thrown into some predictable but zany occurrences that are meant to show their growing adoration for each other. When Lee and Stiles’ chemistry falls flat, luckily there are quality supporting performances to pass the time. Thomas Lennon, alum of MTV’s sketch comedy show The State, delivers a memorable performance as Paul’s love-struck brother. Who he is in love with you’ll just have to find out for yourself. While an uninteresting side plot featuring Paul’s friend, played by Sean Hatosy, muddles the flow of things, slightly grizzly James Brolin also turns up as Karen’s dad and seems like he’s enjoying himself camping it up with these crazy kids.

If It weren’t for Koch’s clean direction (he piloted the equally as foolish but jaunty Snow Day) and the sound performances by Blair, Stiles and Lee, the unoriginal setups and incomprehensible plot twists would get real tired real quick. Nevertheless, since not much is better than seeing Stiles in a flowered bikini top, this movie cannot be the worst thing ever made.

Again, it could be me or it could be A Guy Thing.

Archived article by Carlos Perkins