The story is its own worst Baxter
Rottenberg's rotten book review | nyc | 04/20/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"A "Baxter" is basically a loser, the guy who not only never gets the girl, but has to hear others applaud when he loses her to hero of the story. And since "getting the girl" is basically the same as "getting the story", the "Baxter" is fated to become the footnote in the movie. The conceit behind "The Baxter" is that an entire romantic comedy has been written around the genre's most disposable character type (the guy that the movie's hero beats out in the last 5 minutes of the movie). Unfortunately, the conceit is something of a Baxter itself.
The story follows our Baxter, Eliot Wilbur Sherman in the few weeks before his doomed marriage to an unbelievably beautiful, intelligent and successful woman named Caroline (Elizabeth Banks - crazy Beth from "40 year Old Virgin"). The script doesn't do much to explain how Eliot managed to land Caroline (or is that "how Caroline got stuck with Eliot?") because there's no point to that. We pretty much know how the movie is going to end - the script beats us to the punch by opening the story at the altar, when Eliot does indeed lose Caroline to Bradley, her former too-good-to-be-true boyfriend. The twist is that the story also offers us an offbeat musician named Cecil who's fated to become Eliot's true love once he's realized that there is life after Baxter-hood. The story then re-winds back to those precious weeks before the wedding when we see Bradley slowly reenter Caroline's life and lay the seeds for his triumph at Eliot's altar.
The problem with this flick: like Eliot, it's sort of a Baxter itself. As the story progresses, Bradley edges Eliot out of the way, and since the story is told mostly from his POV, it's soon as marginalized as Eliot. It didn't take long before I began to feel as if there was some other movie going on somewhere else telling the exact same story from Brad's POV. Unfortunately, unlike Eliot, "The Baxter" doesn't have a Cecil of its own, a redeemer of a sort to save it from its incipient Baxterhood.
"The Baxter" unfortunately is successful only in proving just why Baxters shouldn't get the girl or our attention."
Brandon Duncan | 05/04/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What is more shocking than that this film represents a radical (even serious) departure from the absurdist fare of The State and Wet Hot American Summer is that it works so well that we stop wanting it to conform to those old standards of loopiness. The Baxter was ill-received by the critical community, but it seemed that no one was willing to take this lighthearted movie on its own terms. It brilliantly performs double and even paradoxical acts of being both a satire and perfect realization of the old screwball comedy form. Showalter as Elliot Sherman is innocent and awkward but also brimming with a subversive lunacy just beneath the well-groomed surface (or just under the driving cap, if you will). No performance is wasted in the film, with Justin Theroux's cornball charm, Michelle Williams's actual charm, Elizabeth Banks's grating feminine perfection, David Wain's...um...David Wain-ness...well, you get the point. Please see this movie. You'll laugh, cry, all that cinematic experience stuff...See it!"