A Guy Thing Review
Before getting hitched to Selma Blair, Jason Lee finds himself in bed with Julia Stiles the morning after his bachelor party. This being a comedy, Stiles turns out to be Blair’s cousin, plus she has a psychotic ex-boyfriend (Lochlyn Munro) who also happens to be a cop. All manner of complications ensue over the next hour and thirty minutes, before A Guy Thing reaches its predictable finale.
Given the ludicrous set-up, A Guy Thing opts for farcical comedy for the most part. Early on a brief glimpse of a Pink Panther movie is evinced, and the opening titles have a Maurice Binder feel to them, though these prove to be only moments of subtlety. Elsewhere we find Jason Lee getting shot at whilst up a tree, bikini bottoms hidden in a toilet cistern, etc. etc. Of course as the earlier entries in the Pink Panther series proved, as well as the majority of comedies that Cary Grant made during his career, with the right performances and the right direction, this kind of film can be done extremely well. A Guy Thing, however, has two major flaws: a lack of focus and some woeful miscasting.
The focus problem is most likely caused by the presence of four writers. As well as the farce element, A Guy Thing also jumps on the latest comedy bandwagon: scatological humour. As if the comedy wasn’t already broad enough, we also have to endure Jason Lee getting crabs and that old favourite, the elderly drunken female relative with a penchant for crude comments. Moreover, the film also tries to be a traditional romantic comedy. Without spoiling the plot, A Guy Thing follows the predictable route of such movies, every little mishap conspiring to bring the couple together with its “romantic comedy logic”. Unsurprisingly, with all these elements vying for our attention, director Chris Koch never seems overly sure as to what kind of film he’s trying to make.
The miscasting is a more overt problem, and certainly the most disappointing one. All three of the main leads have given fine performances in both indie and mainstream films, including romantic comedies, yet with the exception of Julia Stiles, their talents are hardly apparent here. However, it’s not that the acting itself is bad, it’s more that the material is lacking. Most notable though, is the very apparent fact that there is simply no chemistry between Jason Lee and his two leading ladies. I would suspect that his casting was partly to give the film a little “indie cred” owing to his Kevin Smith connection, plus a desire on his part to break into leading mainstream roles following supporting turns in the likes of Almost Famous, Enemy of the State and Vanilla Sky. Whichever way you look at it, he simply doesn’t work in the part, and being the main star this is hugely detrimental to the film.
Sadly, the supporting cast doesn’t fare that much better. Veterans of the industry such as Julie Hagerty and James Brolin suffer the same problem as Selma Blair, namely being reduced to one-dimensional characters whose only functions appear to be to further the plot. As a result this focuses attention onto Jason Lee and Julia Stiles, and whilst Stiles proves remarkably adept at handling the various comedy elements, she’s sadly the only aspect of A Guy Thing that proves worthwhile.
Picture and Sound
Unsurprisingly, given the film is the less than a year old, both picture and sound are superb. Whilst the DD5.1 mix rarely uses the rear speakers, it remains crisp throughout.
The main extra on the disc is the 18 minute featurette, ‘Inside A Guy Thing’. Whilst this proves to be succinct piece on the making of the film, it also suffers from some extremely grating attempts at humour.
This problem is also evident in the other two documentaries, ‘Bachelor Party Confidential’ (9 minutes) and ‘Groovy Gravy’ (5 mins). The former is a wholly pointless discussion of bachelor parties by the cast and crew, and the latter discusses the improvisation which went into the scene where various characters unwittingly eat marijuana laced gravy.
More noteworthy are the deleted scenes and alternate endings. Director Chris Koch provides introductions for each of these and discusses their reasons for excision. For the most part, there is little here of great interest, though the alternative endings do offer a glimpse into the responses of test audiences.
Backing up these features are a blooper reel (which manages to raise more laughs during its eleven minutes than the main feature does in ninety-seven), four photo galleries and the theatrical trailer.
English and German subtitles are provided for all of the special features.
A Guy Thing is a remarkably stale comedy, and whilst MGM have backed it up with an array of extras, they by no means justify a purchase.