More in-depth film festival coverage than any other website!
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 
Advertisement

Overall Rating
3.3

Awesome: 3.7%
Worth A Look44.44%
Average: 29.63%
Pretty Bad: 22.22%
Total Crap: 0%

4 reviews, 3 user ratings


Latest Reviews

I, Tonya by Rob Gonsalves

Wonder Wheel by Peter Sobczynski

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri by Rob Gonsalves

Swindlers, The by Jay Seaver

Oro (Gold) by Jay Seaver

Disaster Artist, The by Peter Sobczynski

Explosion by Jay Seaver

Lucky (2017) by Rob Gonsalves

Breadwinner, The by Jay Seaver

Endless, The by Jay Seaver

subscribe to this feed


Baxter, The
[AllPosters.com] Buy posters from this movie
by Todd LaPlace

"It’s not wet or hot, but it’s pretty damn funny."
4 stars

If you were to go check out my profile (for time’s sake, I’ll save you the trouble, but it’s worth doing anyway, because I’m just that egotistical), you would see that my favorite quote is listed as being thus: “So that’s where my priorities are right now. Sex. Specifically with Andy and not with you.” That is a quote directed toward Coop (Michael Showalter) in “Wet Hot American Summer.” In the course of about 24 hours, he went from lusting after the girl to getting the girl to losing the girl to getting her again to losing her to her “cut from marble” ex, Andy. Take ’70s camp counselor Coop and transform him into a Brooklyn accountant and you’ve got Showalter’s newest role, the title character of “The Baxter.” And yes, in case you were wondering, the latest film is just as laugh-out-loud hilarious as the first. So read on (because the egotistical side of me says it’s worth doing), then get in your car and find a theater showing this movie. So says me, because, obviously, I’m always right.

The story is about as old as cinema itself: Boy meets Girl. Boy loses Girl. Girl meets Boy No. 2. Boy No. 1 rescues Girl from Boy No. 2 and they live happily ever after. But what about Boy No. 2? What happens to the George Kittredges, the Bruce Baldwins, the Frank Navaskys, the Walter Not-gonna-get-the-girl-so-it’s-not-important-enough-to-give-him-a-last-names of the cinematic world? What becomes of them when the leading man runs off with the leading lady?

They become the Baxters, a collection of lovable losers that are destined to be the nice, safe guy that always loses out to the real star of the show. Elliot Sherman (Michael Showalter) is such a Baxter that he even embodies Boy No. 2 in his own movie, the appropriately titled “The Baxter.” A Baxter, as described by Elliot’s grandma, is always the polite guy that everyone likes, but nobody loves. He’s the kind of guy that is destined to lose all of his girlfriends to the reformed cool guy that shows up with the too-perfect monologue and cheesy romantic prop (like a puppy and sign professing his love) and sweeping gesture designed to spark the “and they lived happily ever after” kiss. But despite living in his Baxter world of tweed, driving caps, accounting friends, non-offensive novelty mugs and precise diction, Elliot has actually managed to land himself a desirable woman, spunky, fashionable, Connecticut-bred Caroline (Elizabeth Banks, last seen romancing a 40-year-old virgin). Everything seems to be going as well as can be expected for Elliot until Caroline’s long-lost first love Bradley (Justin Theroux, wearing smarminess very well) conveniently surprises her at a pre-wedding shindig with the right/wrong words at just the right/wrong moment, depending on the perspective.

The film makes no bones about being predictable — the film opens with Bradley crashing Elliot and Caroline’s wedding to try and steal the bride — so if you haven’t figured out the finale by now, you might want to invest in a few Cary Grant/Tom Hanks romantic comedies, but if it’s just a shocker of an ending you’re looking for, “The Baxter” is certainly the wrong choice. Instead, the film’s pleasures are found in the little moments that lead up to its inevitable ending, and Showalter, pulling triple duty as writer and director, has made sure to load his film with plenty of them. Those unaccustomed to Showalter’s particular blend of comedy — he’s one of the men behind cult TV hit “The State” and cult movie hit “Wet Hot American Summer” — may have a hard time losing the typical gross-out humor that has dominated contemporary comedy and enjoying the subtlety of great wordplay, which mostly rears during Elliot’s more Baxter-ish moments. At a fancy dinner with Caroline’s parents, Elliot recites his life motto, “Compromise is the key to success,” and in his narration of his first meeting with his finance, he notes she first entered his office on “Monday, my favorite day of the week.”

While Showalter deserves much of the credit because of his snappy style, he owes a large debt to his supporting cast, which is easily able to pull of even the film’s more ludicrous moments. “The Station Agent’s” Peter Dinklage is fantastically surreal as the couple’s gay wedding planner that despises Brooklyn and loves Elliot’s choice in women’s panties (no description could ever do this sequence justice, but let’s just say the term “baha cuisine” will always be hysterical). But the big surprise in the movie is Michelle Williams, whose recent collection of roles suggests her time spent on teen melodrama “Dawson’s Creek” was the result of stupefying head trauma. As Cecil, Elliot’s Baxterette temp secretary, she swoops in to be the true love of her boss’ life, a fact that everyone except Elliot knows. On her first day, she takes a moment to personalize her workspace with a lonely flower and a ratty copy of the dictionary, the book she’s “currently reading.” Her character does misstep by drinking beer instead of the Baxter drink of choice, a white wine spritzer, but she more than makes up for it by wearing old fashioned dresses as she tries to launch her singing career, despite her obvious nerves, lack of charisma and having to share a stage with a bad performance artist. But perhaps Williams’ greatest gift is her unseemly ability to simultaneously make Cecil look as adorable as a newborn puppy and as frumpy as your spindly neighbor in a flowery housecoat.

Like much of his previous work, Showalter seems to conform his art to his own obtuse sense of humor. When others go for the painful humor of hairy waxing jobs, Showalter’s biggest laughs seem to come from the simpler place of watching Dinklage repeatedly rant about being in the boondocks of Brooklyn. Because of this, it’s slightly depressing to note that this movie is surely not to be a universally-loved sleeper hit, but will grace the racks as another of his cult classics. As long as he gets to keep making it (thus allowing a select group of us to enjoy it), I’m pretty sure Showalter wouldn’t have it any other way.

For more info on the Baxters featured on today’s program, please check out the films of Cary Grant and Tom Hanks. They are assuredly available at your local library. Or else skip the romantic crap and just go get “Wet Hot American Summer.” It’s really just that damn good.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=12861&reviewer=401
originally posted: 08/28/05 17:21:35
[printer] printer-friendly format  

User Comments

7/22/09 Tess The movie is quite sweet with a very well-written script and wonderful actors 5 stars
3/24/09 brian If not for the cameo by the always-wonderful Peter Dinklage this would be a complete bust 3 stars
9/23/05 Dean Backus Worth a lookk for the terrific supporting cast 3 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:


Discuss this movie in our forum

USA
  26-Aug-2005 (PG-13)
  DVD: 13-Dec-2005

UK
  N/A

Australia
  N/A




Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 
eFilmCritic.com: Australia's Largest Movie Review Database.
Privacy Policy | HBS Inc. | |   

All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast