starring Michael Showalter, Elizabeth Banks, Michelle Williams, Justin Theroux
written and directed by Michael Showalter
starring Evan Rachel Wood, Ron Livingston, James Woods, Jane Krakowski
screenplay by Skander Halim
directed by Marcos Siega
by Walter Chaw Writer-director Michael Showalter swings for the rafters with his anti-romcom The Baxter and ends up hitting into a double play: it's less a satire of romcom conventions than a meek kowtow before their awesome ubiquity. Showalter (also starring as CPA Elliot Sherman) plays the titular schlub, the "Baxter" being a creature of extreme nerdy social incompetence most often glimpsed in frown and tux in the retreating background of Dustin Hoffman rescuing Katharine Ross from the altar. Not a terrible idea (i.e., making the boring, button-down dork the centre of a satirical romance) for a movie as self-serving, self-pitying, neo-Woody Allen ideas go, but as The Baxter unfolds with a suspiciously-familiar series of contrived situations, gentle misunderstandings involving homosexuality and a strange woman in your bed, and a parade of women so far out of Elliot's league as to render his eventual abandonment as inevitable as his ultimate match (with Cecil (Michelle Williams), likewise far out of his league) is unlikely, it becomes clear that the flick is just as stupid as that which it purports to lampoon. The Baxter is actually harder to stomach than its traditional romcom brethren because in place of a leading man locked in its pre-destined narrative, there's barely a supporting character.