Thursday, February 28, 2008
A "Baxter" is classified as a fellow likely to get hay fever, have an aversion to dancing, and is ultimately the guy a woman ends up settling for instead of true love. Or as Cecil (Michelle Williams) says in the film, "Something is better than nothing." Ah but I get ahead of myself. The Baxter is a creation of writer/directer/actor Michael Showalter of the sketch shows The State and Stella.
Showalter plays Elliot Sherman, a man seeminly in the prime of his life who seems to have finally found the right gal in Caroline Swann (Elizabeth Banks). Their pending nuptials are put in down when her old boyfriend Blake (Justin Theroux) comes back into the picture. Elliot finds solace in his former secretary Cecil. He explains his sad-sack life of woman never quite falling for him and ultimately his disappointment. Cecil seems to identify with him as her own relationship to Dan (Paul Rudd again) seems a sham. So the question is will Elliot figure out he wants and go after it?
Showalter gives quite an earnest performance here that smacks a bit of an obsessive compulsive rather than a nerd. He gives Elliot some very defined mannerisms that might drive some crazy. The two female leads are in the spotlight here. Showalter's acting and direction really lend themselves to letting his fellow actors shine. Banks has been delivering quality performances for the last 5 years in small parts so it is no surprise there. Although, Michelle Williams is quite a revelation here. I've never seen her get a chance to really shine in a role.
So if like something different in your romantic comedies, you'll probably greatly appreciate The Baxter. The third act drags a bit as you go through the normal rom/com headaches, but Michelle Williams in particular makes you forget about that.
* Is Paul Rudd in every movie now? Not that I'm complaining.