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A psychologically troubled novelty supplier is nudged towards a romance with an English woman, all the while being extorted by a phone-sex line run by a crooked mattress salesman, and purchasing stunning amounts of pudding.
Paul Thomas Anderson
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Lifelong platonic friends Zack and Miri look to solve their respective cash-flow problems by making an adult film together. As the cameras roll, however, the duo begin to sense that they may have more feelings for each other than they previously thought.
I saw this movie during the "Free Drive-In Movies at Rockefeller Center" series in New York City, on 15 June 2005. It doesn't get a wider release until later this summer, but when it does, I would see this movie with my grandparents. Heck, I could see this movie with my great- grandparents. I could go see this with my snobby friends, and my culturally clueless friends, and I think they all would like it. I'm actually looking forward to bringing my parents to see it, because not only do I think they'll really enjoy it, but I feel like it's finally one of those "movies their weird artsy daughter likes" that I can show them and know that they won't be either appalled over or baffled by.
This is in NO way intended to imply that The Baxter is boring or sappy or in any way oversimplified completely the opposite. The film and the characters are complex, even though they are intentionally written as types. Despite being told through a series of flashbacks, there is no plot that can be ruined by showing the ending at the beginning the whole point of the story is that you already know how these things always end, and the story is in how the characters get there. Like any good character study, the film makes the most of its preordained plot by reaching those ends through uniquely-developed means.
One of the reasons that so many movies that could be labeled "family appropriate" are so bad is because the fact that they're so decent feels so contrived like the raunchy and disturbing parts of life are taken out, and what's left becomes the plot of a PG movie. What makes The Baxter different in its broad appeal is not that it aims low, but that it lifts the audience up to its level. It encourages the viewer to explore other facets of the romantic comedy standard without ever leading them into territory so foreign or artificial that they are unable to relate to the characters or the circumstances. Quite simply, this is a decent and proper and earnest movie because it's told from the point of view of decent and proper and earnest people. It's good, and it's damn good, because, among other things, like excellent costume and set designs, great characters, ridiculous attention to detail, and beautiful directorial choices, it doesn't cater or pander to any one sort of person or audience it's a clever take on a timeless theme, and it's executed in a way that that just about anyone can appreciate. It's sincere, it's honest, it's believable, it's incredibly moving, and it's memorably unique it also just so happens to be extremely polite, because some movies, like some people, are just polite by nature, and that's what makes them who they are. Highly recommended.
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