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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.
A quirky premise and some delightful performances made this film refreshingly true to its stated goal. Showalter is charmingly awkward and perplexed throughout, as a "baxter," one of the guys who are always left alone at the altar when their brides' true loves return to abduct them. Michelle Williams is exceptional in her role, and Jon DeVries and Peter Dinklage both contribute some great comedic moments.
A few sour notes rang out, including Elizabeth Banks' performance as Caroline Swann, which seemed confused and inconsistent. But The Baxter's power is in its non-standard take on old romance stereotypes. The impassioned speeches of each reformed lover to his girl are wonderfully recast from the perspective of the safe, nice guy who is our protagonist here. True love for him is not in being a daredevil or a risk-taker, but simply being himself and taking the opportunity that presents itself. As a new kind of romantic comedy that doesn't necessarily play by the rules, The Baxter succeeds in many ways.
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