Like the typical Hollywood marriage, A Guy Thing lacks honesty and is full of wasted talent.
My Cousin Becky
Straight out of the this-doesn’t-have-to-make-sense-because-it’s-a-comedy genre, A Guy Thing tells the tale of Paul (Jason Lee, Almost Famous), a bachelor who, on the eve of losing his freedom, winds up in bed with a hula dancer named Becky (Julia Stiles, 10 Things I Hate About You).
Becky’s a wild thing and a bit of a mess. Failing as a hula dancer, she becomes a toll booth attendant and eventually finds her true calling stocking shelves in a record shop. Oh yeah, and she’s just broken up with a psycho cop who’s been tailing her and is hell-bent on making Paul’s life miserable following their (actually innocent) dalliance.
Paul is a nice guy. He plays by the rules, is totally honest, is gainfully employed selling magazine ads, and lives his entire life in one very large comfort zone.
In short, Paul and Becky are made for each other. The big snag, beyond the fact that Paul is engaged, is that Paul is engaged to Becky’s cousin.
O the hilarity of this realization! To think that Paul has never before met — or even seen a picture of — the cousin of his fiancé, Karen (Selma Blair, The Sweetest Thing), even though all three of them live and work in downtown Seattle! Stop! You’re killin’ me!
A Tangled Web
The conceit behind A Guy Thing is that all guys lie and cover for each other. When Karen calls a clothing store to complain about the dirty bikini underwear Paul “bought” her, the male clerk quickly picks up on the severity of the situation and covers for the poor bugger. It’s a guy thing, after all. Yeah. Right.
Notwithstanding the lame premise, the biggest problem with A Guy Thing is that so much of it seems like it’s been done before. While part of it plays like Meet the Parents, the modern-day classic Ben Stiller/Robert de Niro comedy, a lot of it plays like a simple-minded episode of Charles in Charge, the dopey TV sitcom.
Perhaps it’s no wonder, then, that Greg Glienna, the primary writer, co-wrote Meet the Parents, and his current cohorts in crime are a trio of writers with, at best, only TV sitcoms on their resume.
Meet the Parents was genuinely funny. When Stiller starts lying, things snowball out of control; his awkwardness and sincere desire to belong make him sympathetic. In A Guy Thing, when Lee starts lying, he comes across as a desperate schmuck looking for an easy way out.
Chris Koch, the director of the kid-comedy Snow Day, chose poorly in his attempt to break into the world of adult comedy. Filled with more forehead slapping than laughter, the story stumbles from one stupid situation to the next and then ties it all together too nicely to be believed. A better movie would have had more focus and stayed with one thought, letting it fully develop, instead of meandering from the gross to the incredulous to the lame to the heartfelt.
Lee and Stiles soak their characters for all they’re worth, but both of them deserve better material than A Guy Thing.