Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Baxter

Title: The Baxter (2005)
Dir: Michael Showalter
Tagline: A romantic comedy for anyone who's ever been dumped.
Rating: *** out of 5 stars

First off, I want to say: if you don't know who Michael Showalter is, SHAME ON YOU. Between Wet Hot American Summer, Stella, and The State, he has established himself as one talented, hilarious mo-fo. Having said that, here is my review of his latest film, The Baxter.

In your average romantic comedy, there is always that moment where the lead female character realizes she is with the wrong man and runs to the arms of Mr. Right in the film's final moments. And they live happily ever after.

But what about the guy who got ditched? Does anyone give a damn about him? Sometimes he is portrayed as a complete asshole (for examples, see The Wedding Singer or Wedding Crashers). This is done so the audience won't feel bad about him ultimately being dumped. But realistically, they aren't always assholes - not in the movies, and not in real life.

That is what The Baxter is basically about - the guy who gets dumped for the "better" man. It opens with Elliott (Showalter) being left at the alter, cutting right to the inevitable ending. But this movie tells the story of the other man; the man who has always lived his life as a "baxter": the lovable loser whom the heroine settles for because Mr. Right is not yet attainable.

I really love that concept. The film spoofs romantic comedies but remains cute and funny like a good romcom should be. And Elliott proves that the dumpee is not always some random asshole but a good person who deserves love too.

The movie packs a wonderful supporting cast: Michelle Williams (who I previously didn't care for, but she's great here); Elizabeth Banks, Zak Orth, Paul Rudd, Michael Ian Black, Joe Lo Truglio, A.D. Miles, David Wain (all Wet, Hot veterans); and Justin Theroux.

It may be no surprise who Elliott ends up with (is it ever?) but that doesn't lessen its appeal. It's cute, amusing, and I'll watch anything with members of The State in it. And you should too.