Saturday, May 06, 2006
The pressure is always on when you watch a film that a friend really liked and urges you to watch. That’s the case with The Baxter (2005) as The Hidden Staircase told me last month that she liked it and I would too. So, I watched it, and I hate to say that I didn’t like it!
It was kind of a sinking feeling as I watched it when I knew that I was either going to have to tell her I didn’t like it or she’d read about it on CineRobot. I promise I tried as hard as I could to like this film. I really wanted to enjoy The Baxter so we could be in agreement but in the end I just couldn’t do it.
I liked the premise of this romantic comedy—how there are men out in the world who are “baxters.” A baxter is an oddball, a second fiddle, a male out of step with the rest of the world and the kind of guy who gets left at the alter by women and are doomed to play the role of “best friend” over and over. The film follows such a baxter as he meets and courts a lovelier, more “with it” female in the form of Elizabeth Banks.
Writer/director Michael Showalter has cast himself as the film’s lead baxter—Elliot. My biggest issue in the film was Showalter himself as the leading man. I found Showalter incredibly annoying and did not believe for one second that this nerdier than nerdy Elliot could meet and then possibly marry someone like Banks as Caroline Swann. No way.
Showalter is clearly limited as an actor in a full-length picture. At times the film feels like a bloated up short film or piece of sketch comedy (the area that Showalter and cohorts have resided in for a long time—way back to The State or recently Reno 911 or Stella). Had someone else been in this lead role I may have liked this a little more than I did.
I did enjoy elements of this—Michelle Williams (who is now a possible “Top5” candidate) was absolutely adorable as a sweet newcomer to town who secretly pines for Elliot in such a bright eyed way he’s completely ignorant of (he’s a baxter after all, cluelessness is part of the character). Michael Ian Black had some humorous bits as Elliot’s neighbor and good friend. And I did like some of the sweet little elements that were buried by my annoyance of Showalter himself.
So, I know I’m disappointing The Hidden Staircase in how I feel about a film that was recommended to me, but what can I do, you feel the way you feel. You either like it or you don’t, it’s that simple. While I didn't despise The Baxter, it was just okay despite how much I wanted it to rise above “okay” and into the category of good.
Posted by Joshua Blevins Peck at 2:36 PM