It turns out cliches are 'A Guy Thing'

Times Staff Writer

What exactly is "A Guy Thing"? According to the movie bearing this title, which contrary to its claims is neither romantic nor comedic, it means a guy, Paul (Jason Lee), with a head and a will as indomitable as a soft-boiled egg. It means a guy who has committed to marrying a thoroughbred, Karen (Selma Blair), doubtless because her imperiousness and snug preppy coordinates give her the vaguely menacing vibe of a strict schoolteacher. It means a guy who, because he has let one woman lead him around by his nose, breaks free on the night of his bachelor party to sniff around another, a willowy blond in a lei brassiere named Becky (Julia Stiles). It means, in other words, that when faced with a great lei, the guy can't help it.

Those who track the ebb and flow of movie releases will not need reminding that January is the month when the bigger movie companies discharge their most odoriferous sewage, except unlike most gross polluters, they don't wait for the cover of night. "A Guy Thing" is by no means the worst movie ever made; given that I missed the recently released "Just Married," another comedy about being young, stupid and in and out of love, it's a good guess that it isn't even the worst movie of the month. The three leads go through the motions with goofy geniality, and director Chris Koch has enlisted some consummate character actors -- Julie Hagerty as Paul's mother, Jay Brazeau as a dance instructor, talented newcomer Fred Ewanuick -- to help hold up the sagging jokes and story line.

Still, amid the limp bids at ribald comedy (Becky loses her unmentionables ... in Paul's bed! Oops, here comes Karen!) and a functional visual style equal to that of the average sitcom, "A Guy Thing" does inspire any number of idle thoughts. Did it really take four Writers Guild members (Greg Glienna, Pete Schwaba, Matt Tarses and Bill Wrubel) to write a joke about some soiled underwear? Do Karen and Becky each consider Paul a catch because, as the latter essentially explains, they all live in San Francisco, where straight guys are at a premium? Does that mean that if they lived in, say, Bozeman, Mont., the women would peg him as the spineless loser he is? Last, has anyone ever seen Stiles and her spooky look-alike Erika Christensen in the same room?


'A Guy Thing'

MPAA rating: PG-13, for language, crude humor, some sexual content and drug references.

Times guidelines: The sex is tame, the humor veers toward the scatological.

Jason Lee...Paul

Julia Stiles...Becky

Selma Blair...Karen

James Brolin...Ken

Shawn Hatosy...Jim

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures presents a David Ladd Films production, released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Director Chris Koch. Writers Greg Glienna, Pete Schwaba, Matt Tarses, Bill Wrubel. Story by Greg Glienna. Producers David Ladd, David Nicksay. Director of photography Robbie Greenberg. Production designer Dan Davis. Editor David Moritz. Costume designer Pamela Withers. Music supervisor Maureen Crowe. Music Mark Mothersbaugh. Casting Risa Bramon Garcia, Brennan DuFrense. Running time: 1 hour, 41 minutes. In general release.

For The Record Los Angeles Times Tuesday January 21, 2003 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 2 inches; 88 words Type of Material: Correction Film setting -- The new film "A Guy Thing" is set in Seattle. A review of the movie in Friday's Calendar incorrectly identified the setting as San Francisco.
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