'A Guy Thing' a comedy of highs and lows

Karen, played by Selma Blair, and Paul, played by Jason Lee, reach the moment of truth in "A Guy Thing."

Metro Goldwyn Mayer
Published: Friday, January 17, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 16, 2003 at 11:55 p.m.


A Guy Thing

2.5 stars
STARS: Jason Lee, Julia Stiles, Selma Blair, James Brolin
THEATER: Butler Plaza

'My bachelor party was the last good time in my marriage," Paul's well-meaning brother tells him a week before his wedding.
This statement is either the worst brotherly advice imaginable or eerily prescient, since everything falls completely apart for Paul (Jason Lee) soon afterward.
"A Guy Thing" chronicles what must be the lousiest six days leading up to a wedding - ever. First Paul, a kind-hearted but kind of nebbish guy, gets plastered at the bachelor party and winds up in bed the next morning with one of the Tiki dancers, Becky (Julia Stiles).
They didn't have sex, but it's not going to look good when his perky but demanding fiancÚ Karen (Selma Blair) finds out. Then it turns out Becky and Karen are cousins. And Becky has a psycho ex-boyfriend, Ray (Lochlyn Munro), who carries a badge and a steroidal rage.
Worst of all, as the big day approaches Paul becomes convinced it's the zany Becky he really adores.
"Guy" is a comedy of highs and lows, most of the highs arriving in the first hour, before the plot breaks down in standard wedding-jitters frivolity. If the humor seems familiar, it's because the story is by co-screenwriter Greg Glienna, who penned the marvelous "Meet the Parents" with Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro.
Jason Lee's character is basically a variation on Stiller's, the average Joe reacting to all the crazy circumstances being thrown at him.
Director Chris Koch, a veteran of TV comedies ("Malcolm in the Middle"), hits the obvious jokes with workmanlike skill, although the characters feel like loose threads bumping up against each other, rather than weaving together for a cohesive whole.
Stiles is likable in a role much ditzier than she's accustomed to, though Lee's performance often fades into the background.
Poor Selma Blair. Why does this drop-dead-gorgeous actress keep getting cast as the downtrodden best friend or the girl who gets dumped? She's becoming the John C. Reilly of the fairer sex.
"Guy Thing" is one of those movies that at first seems cleverer than it is, until you step outside the theater and start thinking about all the things that don't add up.
For instance, an extended sequence revolves around some photographs supposedly taken of Paul and Becky, which fall into the hands of Paul's next-door-neighbor, a preacher played by Larry Miller, who dubs them "pornography." But if, as the movie has established, the pair didn't get jiggy with it, what could the photos possibly show?
The final scene takes place before the altar, a comedic set piece we've seen a thousand times before. Miller turns up again as the officiating preacher, and he delivers a hilarious (and appropriate) version of the "if anyone here knows of any reason why these two should not be joined" bit. The preacher drops a hint, then more hints, then resorts to outright sabotage of the nuptials: "Even a whisper of a reason . . . it doesn't even have to be a good one."
Too bad there aren't more clergy like him; the pews would be a lot fuller.
Christopher Lloyd is entertainment editor at the Star-Banner in Ocala.
Karen, played by Selma Blair, and Paul, played by Jason Lee, reach the moment of truth in "A Guy Thing."

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