MGM's new plan is 'A Guy Thing'

Has MGM learned a lesson?

Not long ago, executives at the smallest of Hollywood's seven major studios thought they had discovered the formula for success: Put big-name stars or A-list directors on a few high-profile projects, aggressively market the films, even if the ads didn't always convey what the movies were really about, and watch the box office ignite.

But the formula backfired. Two Bruce Willis movies tanked. A pricey remake of "Rollerball" helmed by director John McTiernan flopped. And Nicolas Cage couldn't save John Woo's mega-budget World War II action film, "Windtalkers."

So MGM's management went looking for "smaller movies," films that cost a relative pittance by Hollywood standards, but are able to turn a tidy profit should they click.

Enter "A Guy Thing," a comedy opening Friday. With a modest $20-million budget, the PG-13-rated film stars breakthrough wannabes Jason Lee, Julia Stiles and Selma Blair. The plot centers on a guy who wakes up the morning after his bachelor party with another woman and spends the rest of the film trying to cover it up.

The marketplace for romance-themed comedies is competitive right now with "Just Married," "Two Weeks Notice" and "Maid in Manhattan" in theaters. So the film could use a few good reviews. But if most are like the one on the movie Web site aint-it-cool-news, it may be in trouble. "Besides Lee's presence," the reviewer writes, "the film has nothing to offer."

-- Robert W. Welkos

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