By: Andrew Ward (Three Beers) –
Ever had your wedding interrupted by your fiancé’s high school sweetheart? Is he the person trying to recapture the love of his life at your expense? Did everyone in the church cheer for them (including your own friends and family!) when they got back together? If so, then welcome to the world of being a Baxter. Sometimes The Baxter has it coming to him (see Bradley Cooper in Wedding Crashers), but not so much Michael Showalter’s character Elliot Sherman. He’s your everyday, run-of-the-mill guy who enjoys reading the dictionary and speed walking through his Brooklyn neighbourhood. In The Baxter you finally get to see what life is like for the guy everyone seems to neglect in the cut and paste world of romantic comedies.
Something tells me that this film helped Justin Theroux in real life.
First off, the cast is amazing. Showalter had a built-in cast of hilarious talent (Michael Ian Black, David Wain, etc) from The State, Stella, Michael and Michael Have Issue, and so forth, but they added great comedic talent like Elizabeth Banks, Justin Theroux, and Peter Dinklage to the cast. Michelle Williams does a great job as Elliot’s temp/potential love interest Cecil. My favourite scene involves Williams hiding from a wedding planning session between Showalter, Banks, and Dinklage where Showalter wants funk music and tex-mex food for the big day.
Just like in Wet Hot American Summer, they incorporate their built-in talent with outside comedians who complement the film so well. Although many scenes could end up over the top, they tended to stay grounded in a realistic-type setting which made the scenes much funnier. Showalter and Williams play off each other so well that you’re instantly pulling for these two off-beat characters to finally unite.
There wasn’t a good picture of Dinklage as wedding planner Benson Hedges, so here is one of him in a hole of some sorts. I assume this is from Game of Thrones. I can’t afford HBO.
This is a very New York film. If you love those, then you’re set. If not, save yourself the time and avoid this at all costs. It doesn’t take long for Elliot to let the audience know he lives in Brooklyn. Now, mentioning this film as a New York film will turn off some viewers. Mentioning it as a Brooklyn film will turn even a few New Yorkers away. But hey, they’re the ones missing out on a solid comedy film. Brooklyn’s setting ties in well with Elliot and provides a perfect backdrop for him to explain his life.
Getting back to my original statement, the film shows a decent amount of Brooklyn and Manhattan that isn’t featured in many films. If you’re one of the millions planning on visitingNew Yorkfor the first time and don’t want to do tourist-y type adventures check out films like this. It’s not the hipster BS that is associated with Brooklyn and you never once see Time Square. It’s the New York that New Yorkers and the tourists who avoid the beaten path know. You won’t learn everything you need to know about the city from watching this, but you get a small clue.
Not Pictured: A New Yorker voluntarily being here.
Just as how a New Yorkstyle film can turn people away, some may be turned away by the fact that it is a film very similar to the previous titles I listed that Showalter, Michael Ian Black, and David Wain are usually attached to. If you like their previous work then this is right in your pipeline. If you don’t like those films and shows then you may be in for a long hour and a half. As a fan of their work I was biased going in, but I left with more respect for the trio and the cast of regulars around them. Unlike many of their shows in the past that had skits go way over the top, The Baxter toes a line between reality and absurdity that tells several love stories that all intertwine very well.
The Showalter and Gang brand is an acquired taste, but as most comedy fans should know by now: this is a taste that is worth acquiring. A great cast backs up a solid comedy with a fun story. This isn’t a side-splitting film, but there are great moments of laughter. IFC Films always tends to roll the dice on comedy that isn’t quite on par with the mainstream scheme. Sometimes it works and sometimes it blows up in their faces. This time it worked. If you’ve ever been dumped (looking at you, everyone) go see this movie.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time Elizabeth Banks says “Bradley” in that way (You’ll know what I mean when you hear it)
Take a Drink: every time a member of The State comes on screen for the first time.
Drink a Shot: for every scream Elliot emits