January of 2003 will not be a month missed at the movies. As here I am, writing yet another negative review about a movie that isn't bad, but horrible. We're at the point where I'm recommending "Just Married" to people who are in the mood for romantic comedies.
"A Guy Thing" opens with Paul (Jason Lee) at his bachelor party. He is engaged to Karen (Selma Blair) and is enjoying his last night of freedom. Right off the bat "A Guy Thing" is really "The Same Thing" in that the fiancé comes from a family of money. Paul works for his father-in-law, an energetic character who is only as intimidating as the size of his wallet and his connection to his daughter. They work together at some conglomerate corporation, although I wonder if Paul is competent enough to have a job that entails wearing a suit (he has a hard time remembering that he left things in certain places that must not be found).
But back to the plot so I can get it over and done with. Paul has six days until marriage, which for him (and for us in the audience) doesn't come soon enough. He wakes up the morning after his bachelor party and finds a girl sleeping next to him. Meet Becky (Julia Stiles), one of the Tiki girls that danced at the party last night. She didn't know that Paul was the groom, so I guess her reason for sleeping with a drunk stranger is justified.
Paul finally kicks Becky out his apartment and is ready to forget about her forever until he learns that Becky is his fiancé's cousin. Paul will now be forced to see Becky regularly at family dinners and celebrations and has to work with her to keep their one-night-stand a secret. But the real story is there is no story. They didn't sleep together, or as Becky put it, "we just slept together, we didn't sleep (does the hand motions) together." So if all they did was share the same bed, I'm sure telling the truth wouldn't have been so bad. Families do sometimes work things out, but Paul would rather make us suffer through a movie whose plot is one that doesn't have to be a movie at all. But because they keep it a secret, Paul and Becky eventually fall in love with each other, so the story continues. We are treated to endless scenes of Paul keeping a non-secret from Karen a secret.
The characters are paper-thin and show no depth. Becky explains that she is always changing her career because she likes change and can't be in one place. We really don't get a good explanation, but we do see her as a dancer, waitress, and why-not a tollbooth attendant. I'm sure I forgot a few things but it serves no purpose to the plot. We do know she once dated a cop who is often referred to as psycho and steroid-driven. When he finds out that Paul has been seeing Becky, he flips out and pays him several visits. Few sub-plots come to mind that are worse than this. The former boyfriend occasionally puts Paul in dumpsters and even plants cocaine in his car so he can take him to jail for the fun of it.
One of the characters is a young kid who works in the pharmacy and gets Paul his 'crab' medication. He is referred to as a pharmacist, but he can't really be one. He's too young and too incompetent. Paul of course is embarrassed when buying the medication, so it is only right for the pharmacy technician (the proper title for the kid) to not know where the medication is, so he has to yell across the store to another associate for assistance. Soon, everyone in the store including his mother-in-law gets to hear about his problem. And we're supposed to laugh at this. The scene goes even further when Paul tells his mother-in-law that by crabs, he meant that the kid is a cook and makes good crabs. She then invites him to cook at the wedding reception. He accepts and eventually cooks at the wedding by adding marijuana to all of the dishes. Sigh.
At least Karen is a good character. Most romantic comedies are about men falling in love with the right women, only after proposing to the wrong women. Whether the right woman is a wedding planner, co-worker or the girl that wakes up next to you the next morning, that is usually the case. Karen is different and isn't the typical wrong woman. She's a likable character, but she doesn't mix well with Paul, the chemistry isn't there. They look rough together and I asked myself what led Paul to proposing to her. If only he met Becky first.
When you look at the plot's context, you must come to the conclusion that there should be no movie. The film is called "A Guy Thing" because it is understood that whatever happens at the groom's bachelor party is pardoned and excused. Sometimes the situation gets a little steamy, but hey, it's a guy thing. When you look at what happened to Paul, any girl probably would have understood and gotten over it.
"A Guy Thing" isn't as funny as it could have been or should have been as it needed something to support itself on. The acting is mediocre; as if Blair, Stiles and Lee knew that they were making a dud and didn't want to exert the effort into the performances that they are all capable of doing.
The wedding scene at the end is the final blow to the movie's integrity. I was actually embarrassed after listening to Paul's monologue, where he finally sets things straight. I predicted how this movie would end almost immediately after it started, but I didn't think it would be so lazy as to needing the services of a corny monologue; which by definition is a speech by a single character in a movie that doesn't belong in weddings.
You may be wondering, but how can this movie have a happy ending if both women are in the same family and only one can end up with Paul? But the movie does have a happy ending, one that's a little too happy. So happy and perfect that it never could have happened in real life. It doesn't get much worse than "A Guy Thing." Yes, January has been an awful month at the movies so far. Oh how I yearn for February.