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The Baxter
by: jay 05 Oct 2005
The Baxter

The Baxter
The Baxter
Directed by Michael Showalter
2005
Writing, directing, and starring, Michael Showalter ("The State" and "Stella") churns out a rather tepid romantic comedy that, although short on gut busting laughs, still leaves you with a smile at its whimsical end. The film begins with an explanation of its title: a "baxter", we are told, is the guy who, in all those great romantic comedies, gets dumped at the alter at the last second when the leading man returns to reclaim his one and only true love.

And so we have the story of Elliot Sherman (Showalter), a baxter it seems his whole life. Elliot wears ridiculously weird hats and likes to read the dictionary for fun, which, as we see early on, is a pastime he shares with his temp secretary Cecil (Michelle Williams). Of course, this match made in heaven is all shattered with the arrival of Caroline (Elizabeth Banks), who we see in the beginning of the movie (which is really the end) leaving Elliot for her college sweetheart Bradley (Justin Theroux), who has just returned "from Malta." In typical Hollywood fashion, Elliot must now endure his required does of uncomfortable and humiliating situations before realizing that Cecil is indeed his one true love.

Showalter has fashioned this movie to be quite reminiscent of ‘40s romantic comedies, like 1940’s The Philadelphia Story, or anything with Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. All of the characters dress and act like characters from the ‘40s even though the movie takes place in the present. In fact, the only character that doesn’t do that is Black. Watching the film, the one word that came to mind over and over again was "silly". The majority of the humor is dulled down to an almost child like level, and I couldn't help but find myself laughing at scenes that in reality were probably not that humorous. The inclusion of David Wain and Michael Ian Black in supporting roles (like you didn't see that one coming) does add a touch of that "over the top" (on a side note, what if Sly had directed and starred in this film? Think about THAT) absurdness that one would come to expect from the cast of Stella. In the end, it's Williams who shines the brightest. With her sympathetic wide eyes and irrepressibly cute red bangs, the movie lights up whenever she's on screen.

thebaxtermovie.com


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