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Review: 'A Guy Thing' is a bad thing

Good cast wasted on terrible script

By Paul Clinton
CNN Reviewer

A Guy Thing
Julia Stiles and Jason Lee star in "A Guy Thing."

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(CNN) -- OK, everybody, take a deep breath.

Now, if you're detecting traces of a truly odious aroma, the source may very well be the new film, "A Guy Thing."

Starring Jason Lee -- an unfortunate choice for this, his first leading role -- Julia Stiles and Selma Blair, "A Guy Thing" is a classic case of a bad, bad movie happening to perfectly good actors. No matter how mightily they tried -- and try they do -- no one could breath life into this aimless, inane script.

Indeed, the script is a perfect example of too many chefs spoiling the broth. "A Guy Thing" had four -- count 'em, four -- Hollywood scribes: Greg Glienna (who wrote a great, very funny movie, 2000's "Meet The Parents"), Pete Schwaba, Matt Tarses and Bill Wrubel. Guess it looked like a good idea at the time, but something horrible definitely happened between the pitch session and the final product.

Lee plays Paul, a likable guy whose life is on automatic pilot. He's doing all the right things at the right time -- career, girlfriend, getting married -- but he lacks any kind of conviction about anything. Paul never takes chances or entertains any kind of risk. Everything is going according to plan, including his fiancee Karen.

Far from perfect

Said fiancee is played by Blair. Karen is a picture-perfect girl who lives in a picture-perfect house with her picture-perfect upper-class parents, played by the far from perfect James Brolin and Diana Scarwid. Now, everyone in this flick comes off like a cartoon character, but Brolin really ups the ante every time he's on screen.

Then, in what seems to be an impossible feat, Paul's parents, played by David Koechner and Julie Hagerty, are given even less to work with than the rest of the cast. It's actually painful to watch these actors trying to wring laughs out of dialogue so dense and plastic that they probably cut their tongues trying to spit it out. How anyone kept a straight face, or a shred of dignity, is beyond me.

A Guy Thing
Selma Blair plays Lee's fiancee in "A Guy Thing." Stiles is Blair's character's cousin.

Shawn Hatosy plays Paul's dimwitted best friend Jim. At Paul's bachelor party the groom fully intends to behave himself, so Jim pretends to be the groom when the night's entertainment -- three girls dressed in grass skirts and phony leis doing a very lame hula -- shows up. One of the girls is Becky, played by Stiles. Before you know it, the film cuts to the next morning, where Paul is in bed.

In quick succession he's awakened by a phone call from his soon-to-be mother-in-law, finds out that Karen is on her way over to his apartment, and discovers that Becky is lying naked next to him in bed. He gets her dressed and out of the door seconds before a completely clueless Karen arrives. Karen is clueless throughout the film, in fact, which helps the plot sputter along.

Of course, Paul thinks the whole incident is over, but at a dinner party at Karen's house that night he finds out Becky is Karen's cousin. How cute. Couldn't you just die with laughter?

OK, probably not.

The best-laid plans

The rest of the film consists of Karen blithely planning her magical wedding day while Paul and Becky get involved in a series of idiotic situations. Naturally, they're thrown together so much that they fall in love. Meanwhile, squeezed into this stupid story is a subplot involving Paul's brother, Thomas Lennon, who is blatantly in love with his brother's soon-to-be-wife.

If you can't guess the ending by now, you're not paying attention. Not that I blame you.

This whole mess was directed by Chris Koch, who also brought us the insipid film "Snow Day" three years ago. If he's smart he'll perform surgery on his resume and cut this puppy out of his list of credits. (He might want to do the same with "Snow Day.") Koch usually works on TV sitcoms, and his pacing and style is in keeping with a half-hour comedy. I kept waiting for a commercial break so I could run to the bathroom, or better yet from the theater, but the film just keeps going like an annoying wind-up toy.

"A Guy Thing" lasts only 101 minutes, but it's so slow it's like watching a sundial. This one is going to video so fast it will probably produce skid marks on its way out of the theaters.

"A Guy Thing" opens nationwide on Friday, January 17.

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