The Baxter

(2005) * Pg-13
91 min. IFC Films. Director: Michael Showalter. Cast: Michael Showalter, Elizabeth Banks, Michelle Williams, Justin Theroux, Zak Orth.
According to writer-director-star Michael Showalter, "The Baxter" is the character in a romantic-comedy film who gets left at the altar when the hero makes a last-minute save in the name of true love. In those movies, the Baxter is attractive but unromantic, smooth but boring, sexual but sexually unexciting. But Showalter's Baxter, a clueless nerd named Elliot Sherman, isn't smooth at all and appears to be asexual. He's a comic caricature of the romantic has-been, but too outclassed to be a Baxter—this guy could never make it to the altar in the first place. Conceptually, then, The Baxter is hobbled, and all Showalter has is his concept. Falling back on feeble bits of farce and romantic comedy, Showalter's film is woefully flat and unfunny most of the time. Though poorly directed and badly paced, The Baxter has a cast trying its best, including Michelle Williams, Elizabeth Banks, Justin Theroux, Paul Rudd, Showalter's comedy partners Michael Ian Black and David Wain, and Peter Dinklage as wedding planner Benson Hedges. As promised, The Baxter is an also-ran.
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