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The Daily Tar Heel

'Guy Thing' Meant for Men, Women, But Disappoints Both

"A Guy Thing"

Movie studios will work long and hard to keep a romantic comedy away from the dreaded "chick flick" designation.

Such films already target the female market, and keeping the male population from taking a machismo-induced flight is a sure-fire way to light up box office receipts.

Give "A Guy Thing" some sort of credit -- it tries.

The casting of Jason Lee alone deserves effort points. Lee ("Almost Famous," "Mall Rats"), delivers sharp dialogue using the kind of sardonic wit many guys aspire to achieve.

In "A Guy Thing" he plays Paul, the bumbling lead in this romantic farce. But Paul is far too flawed for the sensitive standard of a typical "chick flick." Here's a man who shuffles away from domestic responsibility, talks his way out of mistakes rather than owning up to them and frequently gets distracted by neurotic fantasy sequences.

Paul is one week away from being married to uptight rich girl Karen (Selma Blair), but he quickly becomes the uptight one after waking up next to a mysterious women the night after his bachelor party.

His drunken bed-mate is Becky (Julia Stiles), an aloof free spirit who also happens to be Karen's cousin. And like Paul, Becky's character plays against the romantic comedy type. She's a woman who craves adventure but is without those pesky mood swings. She's a girl who will drive down a hill at high speed yet doesn't break a sweat after being rudely dismissed by a one-night stand.

In short, she's one of the boys -- except exceedingly hot.

So as the movie throws these two together in one bizarre scenario after another, it's consistently making its plea for love from the male demographic.

But the pleas don't stop there.

In what comes off as yet another nod to testosterone, "A Guy Thing" delivers most of its laughs -- and they end up being mere chuckles -- through predominantly physical comedy. Lee has done comic wonders with the consistently witty Kevin Smith scripts he's worked with in the past, but his limited variety of facial expressions make him a poor choice for the kind of jokes that require compromising situations.

The film continues to err by minimizing the on-screen time Paul and Becky spend together. Not only does this siphon all believability from the script, but it also distracts the audience from the movie's logical center.

Geared toward the guys or not, this is still a romantic comedy and not a male-bonding flick.

Of the movie's many ill-developed side characters, only Pete (Thomas Lennon of old comedy troupe "The State") elicits fresh laughs as Paul's older brother with an envy complex.

In its final scene, "A Guy Thing" has a chance to deviate from the romantic comedy formula by offering something other than a predictably bland ending.

But this time it follows the cookie-cutter mold.

The film's talented and normally likable stars deserve better -- and so does the male race.

The Arts & Entertainment Editor can be reached at artsdesk@unc.edu.

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