A Guy Thing
review by Gregory Avery, 17 January 2003

In A Guy Thing, Jason Lee, looking more ski-nosed than ever, plays Paul, a young Seattle man who's about to get married and wakes up, the morning after his bachelor party, to discover himself in bed with a strange woman. Selma Blair plays his intended, Karen, from whom he desperately tries to hide this fact. And Julia Stiles plays the strange girl, who's named Becky, takes the whole situation rather good-naturedly, but who then keeps bumping into Paul, over the next six days before his wedding, again and again and....

An attempt to do a kooky romantic farce, the movie plays more like an episode of Love, American Style gone amuck, only with a newer cast and PG-13 material. It has sequences which will be truly talked about for months to come, such as the dinner with both sets of in-laws in attendance (plus a member of the clergy) where everyone gets higher than a kite from the pot that's been slipped into the gravy by the chef who's actually a drug store clerk who sold Paul some medication to get rid of a case of the c-r-a-b-s. Karen's parents (James Brolin and Diana Scarwid) are straightlaced -- although there's an incorrigible Irish aunt, played by the ubiquitous Canadian actress Jackie Burroughs, who gets to deliver the immortal line, "I haven't had a bowel movement in 14 days." -- and they're mortified, just mortified, to learn that Paul's mother (Julie Hagerty) and stepfather (David Koechner) think nothing of telling each other amusing double-entendres out loud. (So amusing, I can't remember a word of any of them.)

Paul's brother, played by Thomas Lennon as if he were Tony Randall opposite Rock Hudson (only without all the implications Mark Rappaport mad apparent in his film Rock Hudson's Home Movies, though the filmmakers do manage to get some material of that nature into the movie through other means), openly yearns for Karen from scene one. Meanwhile, Stiles' Becky is shown to be an unconventional type who would be good for Paul because she can teach him how to really live by the fact that, one, she can't hold down a job for more than one day, and, two, when they break into the apartment of her ex-boyfriend to "steal the negatives" of some compromising photos, they end up getting trapped in a bathtub, cornered by the ex-boyfriend's ferocious mutt.

This is a movie that leaves no barnacled cliché or hackneyed situational comedy device unmined. (It also presents Seattle as looking like the dankest city seen in any recent film this side of Feardotcom.) And this is the second new movie in two weeks to feature a "psycho ex-boyfriend" -- here, he's a member of the Seattle police force (and, as played by Lochlyn Munro, gets to punch Jason Lee to the ground, smash eggs on his head, and then pour a carton of chocolate milk all over him), and Paul gets to wear a wire so Internal Affairs can catch the guy when he does something like clamp his arm around Paul's neck in a "death grip." (Strangely, Paul also wears the wire during the euphoric dinner scene, and nobody busts anybody for using an illegal substance. They must've been more concerned over what happened to the chocolate milk.)

Jason Lee still seems to be teetering on the edge of becoming, or not becoming, an actor of interest. Selma Blair, who gave a genuine breakthrough dramatic performance last year in Storytelling, here has to narrow her eyes and fume a lot (miraculously, she keeps her performance fresh, though). Julia Stiles, as Becky, shows great comedic ability and appeal, so much that you'd like to see her at-work in a better movie, pretty soon. And, in case you thought American screen comedy was dead, there's an extended sequence where a character has to feign diarrhea, bringing back fond memories of the scenes with Fat Bastard in last summer's Austin Powers in Goldmember. By all means, go see the movie -- you won't believe your eyes.

Directed by:
Chris Koch

Jason Lee
Julia Stiles
Selma Blair
Shawn Hatosy
Thomas Lennon
Lochlyn Munro
David Koechner
Julie Hagerty
Jackie Burroughs
Diana Scarwid
James Brolin

Written by:
Greg Glienna
Pete Schwaba
Matt Tarses
Bill Wrubel

PG - 13 - Parents
Strongly Cautioned.
Some material may
be inappropriate for
children under 13.







www.nitrateonline.com  Copyright © 1996-2005 by Nitrate Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.