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A Guy Thing

Year: 2003
Studio: MGM
Director: Chris Koch
Cast: Jason Lee, Julia Stiles, Selma Blair, James Brolin, Julie Hagerty, David Koechner
Here's the thing, guys: your trailer sucks.

It makes your movie sounds like another of those dull, by-the-numbers Generation X romantic comedies in the sanitary How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days mould.

Surprisingly, there are enough gags just on the dry side of clever to elicit some honest laughs and rescue A Guy Thing from cinematic bargain bin. Some even have a genuine spontaneity rarely seen in generic Hollywood romantic comedies.

Unfortunately, the unoriginal storyline and charisma-free cast (of actors who've shown plenty in the past) don't do the film the same honour.

Jason Lee is straight-laced Paul, betrothed to sweet, decent Republican daughter Karen (Selma Blair). The morning after his bachelor party he awakens to find beautiful dancer Becky from the night before (Julia Stiles) in his bed, with no idea what she's doing there.

Bustling her out of his apartment in terror before his fiancee arrives to discuss wedding plans, he thinks the whole sorry episode is gone from his life.

When the same dancer shows up at a wedding rehearsal dinner, Paul's horrified to learn she's Karen's cousin. His life over the ensuing week goes downhill in a series of fairly contrived and increasingly bizarre messes, from a psycho ex-boyfriend to missing underwear.

And all the while - the sweet piano music always starts on cue for those who haven't worked the story out - Paul and Becky find themselves falling in love.

Despite the occasional edgy humour, A Guy Thing is a thoroughly mainstream romance with its heart firmly on its sleeve. So if you've had your fill of this kind of fare you'd there are better no-frills comedies around.

Also, it's a little confusing to pin down the audiences the film is aiming for. When a drunken bachelor party features hula dancers instead of strippers, you think you're in for a family-friendly time, an illusion soon shattered by a running gag about genital lice.

Indie film fans will recognise Kevin Smith fixture Jason Lee, who sold out his grungy, independent roots to make this kind of fairy floss long ago.

Never one to fade into the wallpaper, Julie Stiles is one of the most intelligent, expressive and striking young actresses working in Hollywood and it's a shame she isn't drawn to more interesting material.

The rest of the cast - from Blair to Julie Hagerty (no, your eyes don't deceive you - it is Elaine the stewardess from the Flying High movies) are ineffectual set dressing for the main characters to bounce off.

It's hard not to have a good time at the expense of some good writing, but the premise is nothing you haven't seen a million times before.

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