Our review of A Guy Thing (Blu-ray), published August 10th, 2011, is also available.
Speak now or forever hold you peace.
The success we achieve in life is directly proportional to the choices we make. For whatever reason, Jason Lee has yet to figure this out. How can an actor with such impeccable timing and acerbic wit continue to make bad films? Just another one of the great mysteries of Hollywood.
Facts of the Case
Paul (Jason Lee) is about to marry Karen (Selma Blair)—or is he? When Paul wakes up in bed with Becky (Julia Stiles) the morning after his bachelor party, it ignites a chain of slapstick events that force him to wonder if he's marrying the right woman.
Lord knows, Hollywood has gone to the "Bachelor Party" well for source material on far too many occasions—The Body Disappears (1941), How to Murder Your Wife (1965), The Ecstasies of Women (1969), Bachelor Party (1984), Date with an Angel (1987), Trial and Error (1997), Very Bad Things (1998). When writers Greg Glienna and Pete Schwaba (Meet The Parents) came up with a new twist on this old theme, MGM took notice. Unfortunately, in the middle of developing the project, actor-turned-producer David Ladd (The Mod Squad, 1999) and Director Chris Koch (Snow Day) ousted the scribes in favor of Matt Tarses and Bill Wrubel (Sportsnight), two novice screenwriters. The result is apparent from the very beginning—this is a good cast trapped in a bad film. Give them credit for sticking with it, but save yourself the 101 minutes and invest it in something more rewarding.
Here's all you need to know about A Guy Thing --
The plot is nothing more than a poorly recycled episode of Three's Company. Boy is getting married. Friends throw him a bachelor party, complete with hula girls. Boy gets drunk and wakes up the next morning with hula girl in his bed. Boy lies to fiancée about what happened, yet predictably continues to run into former hula girl everywhere he goes. Boy becomes intrigued until he is introduced to fiancée's cousin—hula girl—and all comedic hell breaks loose. Highlights include boy locking himself in future in-law's bathroom using every personal care product he can find to simulate intestinal problems; boy getting beaten and tortured by hula girl's neurotic ex-boyfriend, who happens to be a police detective; boy tries to get rid of any evidence of hula girl, only to have the son of his minister neighbor collect it all and get caught.
I mean no disrespect to Jason Lee, but the late John Ritter defined this character for generations to come. I think Jason is an exceptional actor whose talents continue to be misused and under-valued. In fact, it's movies like this that lost him the opportunity to star in Miramax's relaunch of Gregory McDonald's Fletch franchise—a character Jason was born to play. It's sad, really.
As for the rest of the cast, Julia Stiles is her patented sweet, idiosyncratic, tell-it-like-it-is self. Selma Blair is a non-entity, lost in a subtle performance that fails to fully utilize her skills. Even the deadpan mugging of Larry Miller is wasted, which I didn't think was possible. Toss in James Brolin and Diana Scarwid as Karen's uptight parents, along with Julie Haggerty and David Koechner as Paul's mother and stepfather, and you have the makings of a fairly talented comedy team. Unfortunately, the film rapidly devolves into a series of old, rehashed bits that were more entertaining when written for the Carol Burnett Show and Laugh-In.
Presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, the transfer is completely clean. The colors are electric—a mix of reds, greens, yellows, and blues that give the film a retro '60s look and feel. This theme is perpetuated by the opening titles, DVD menus, and the screwball score of composer Mark Mothersbaugh—one of the most engaging aspects of the film. There's also a 1.33:1 full frame option, but it won't increase the film's entertainment value. The Dolby 5.1 audio is underutilized, with 90% of the action taking place in the three front channels and very little activity anywhere else. In case you didn't find the film funny in English, there are also French and Spanish tracks available. Good luck with that.
To distract the viewer from the film itself, MGM has loaded up this release with a truckload of bonus materials. Ironically, these features are more entertaining than the actual feature presentation. The audio commentary by director Chris Koch, Julia Stiles, Selma Blair, Thomas Lennon, and Jason Lee is engaging and quite funny. However, the most interesting materials are the three featurettes—Inside A Guy Thing (19 minutes), Bachelor Party Confidential (9 minutes), and Groovy Gravy (5 minutes). Actually, if you can get past the bullshit being spewed by the actors about each other, it is "Inside" which illuminates the debacle this film was about to become. Watch as producer David Ladd and director Chris Koch spell out all of the mistakes made in pre-production, without ever realizing the damage they would eventually cause. At one point, Jason Lee even seems to indicate that if he wasn't already signed to the project when the writing change and director choice were made, he would have bailed. Trust your instincts! Seven deleted scenes (running 17 minutes) with intros by Chris Koch yet again illustrate why it is good that certain segments end up on the cutting room floor. Three alternate endings, shot months apart, are further evidence that this film was a disaster in the making. The sad thing is, none of them provide any sort of satisfactory resolution to the story. By this point, a 12-minute gag reel, consisting of outtakes and flubs doesn't do much to raise the entertainment value. Neither does an interactive quiz on true love entitled "Are We Made for Each Other?," a pop-up fun fact audio track with insights both related and unrelated to the film, or a photo gallery. Round out this package with the original theatrical trailer and a gaggle of studios trailers, and you have a wasted evening in a box.
Stay away from this movie! If you've already seen it, I apologize for not getting to you sooner. Therapy will help to overcome the damage done. Trust me, there are good comedies out there. Simply visit AFI's 100 Years, 100 Laughs and select one you haven't seen.
Producer David Ladd, director Chris Koch, and writers Matt Tarses and Bill Wrubel are sentenced to 10 years of hard labor watching student films from Comedy 101. With any luck, they'll learn something before creating another film like A Guy Thing. The cast is free to go, but someone please tell Jason Lee to get himself a new agent.
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Scales of Justice
• Feature Commentary by Director Chris Koch, Actors Jason Lee, Selma Blair, Julia Stiles, and Thomas Lennon
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