Friday, March 03, 2006

Review: The Baxter

I was really disappointed by The Baxter, an IFC movie that had been recommended to me a while back. About five minutes into the movie, I could imagine what the whole plot was going to be, and kept waiting for it to happen already. And this wasn't like some halfway decent Hollywood flick where you do know the general direction of the plot, but you're still halfway amused to watch what happens as it progresses. It took the worst of indie films and the worst of Hollywood fare and put them together. The sad part is, I usually like quirky relationship movies like this. It was totally unbelievable to me that the main character (played by the writer/director Michael Showalter) would ever be with the women he supposedly dates. He doesn't seem to like them very much and they don't seem to like him either — in addition to them being out of his league. (I know, I know, the whole "league" thing is very dumb and high school, but this is the movies, remember, where casting is involved, etc.)

So the moment the adorable, shy-crooning, dictionary-reading Michelle Williams character (with the smirk-inducing film-reference name of Cecil Mills) enters the picture, it's obvious that she's meant to be with the main guy character. (I kept waiting for her close-up.) All the to-ing and fro-ing that goes on in the interim doesn't appeal much at all. It's just not very believable. And while Williams is a joy to watch, Elizabeth Banks, who did such an amazing job in Heights with Glenn Close two years ago, is reduced to a caricature here. You never really even understand why she's supposed to like Showalter's guy in the first place. Getting free year-round accounting services for her and her extended family doesn't quite seem to be motive enough.

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