Rated PG-13 - Running Time: 1:41 - Released 1/17/03

You can tell you’ve really made it when your tastes get so refined that you have to start making terrible movies just to pay the bills. Such is apparently the case with Jason Lee and Julia Stiles, two very promising actors who have shown they have the chops to succeed if the material is adequate. A Guy Thing, written by Greg Glienna (with 3 others) and directed by Chris Koch (Snow Day), is most certainly not adequate. It’s pure tripe, and the cast knows it. Even as we watch and listen to the nominees and winners of Golden Globes and Academy Awards discussing the better movies of the past year, we are reminded of the immense volume of trash that is churned out of Hollywood by producers who are more interested in raking in the bucks from undiscriminating teenagers than even trying for anything resembling art. For their part, Lee and Stiles use their considerable charm to attempt the impossible task of making this film watchable. They fail, but at least they try.

Lee plays Paul Morse, a magazine ad man from Seattle who is about to marry Karen (Selma Blair), the daughter of his immensely wealthy and powerful boss (James Brolin), who is, of course, a control freak of the highest magnitude. However, on the morning after his bachelor party, he wakes up with one of the strippers hired for the event. Her name is Becky (Stiles), and although he was actually too drunk to have sex with her, he is now too hung over to know that. Now he must not only hide his indiscretion from Karen and her dad, but deal with the violent retribution visited on him by Becky’s psychotic ex-boyfriend (Lochlyn Munro), who has just become a member of Seattle’s finest. Then, to make matters worse, he discovers that Becky is actually Karen’s cousin, and will be at the wedding and a recurring character in the rest of his life. But frankly that’s not so bad, because he kind of likes her better than his bride-to-be anyway.

It wouldn’t be that bad if this were just a run-of-the-mill romantic comedy with hackneyed dialogue and plot elements we had all seen before. Well, yes, it would be that bad—but it’s worse. Because even though it is all those things, it’s not even handled well by director Koch. This movie is littered with lost threads, jokes set up and never realized, seeds planted that never flower. Plot points are introduced for the purpose of some lame joke or silly situation and then forgotten as if they never happened. Conflicts are never properly resolved. Characters are designed simply to fulfill some stereotype, and do things that are clearly not in their best interest just so we can enjoy a joke we’ve seen a million times before. What’s more, this isn’t even a new story idea. The plot is basically the same as 1999's infinitely better Forces Of Nature, with some minor alterations. Incidentally, it also bears shades of last year’s Cameron Diaz vehicle The Sweetest Thing, which featured Blair playing pretty much the same part.

I’m happy that Lee and Stiles are so successful they can purchase the 50-foot yachts, or the swanky mid-town apartments, or the candy-apple red Porches. Good for them. But I guess if you want to make the payments, you have to make movies like this. I guess it’s just A Star Thing.

Copyright 2003 by John R. McEwen and The Republican

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