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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.
The wonderful thing about browsing video stores is coming across films that never came to your local theater - because they were filled with garbage such as "Fever Pitch" and "Be Cool" - and finding out these small films are actually pretty good.
"The Baxter" is certainly one of those films. It's surprisingly sweet without getting maudlin. The characters' neuroses are all charming without ever seeming to be unnatural. And the film's also awfully funny.
It's helped immensely by a superbly deadpan performance by Michael Showalter. He plays his character completely straight and the laughs come naturally. And the always wonderful Michelle Williams again proves why she's quite possibly one of the most under-rated actresses today. She's so good at playing slightly quirky people without ever seeming odd. Just take a look at turn in "The Station Agent" (2003).
The film gets wonderful supporting work from Elizabeth Banks, Justin Theroux - his entrance is priceless - and a genuinely funny cameo from Peter Dinklage.
"The Baxter" isn't the greatest comedy, but it's certainly better than most of the fare that's in theaters right now. It has a certain honesty. You can't help but feel for the title character and his predicaments. Most of us have been there and it's hard not to like this chap. He also surrounds himself with oddballs who never take away anything from the film. Of course, they're movie people but they add something unique to this special little film.
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