Paul (Jason Lee) is preparing to marry Karen (Selma Blair, “Legally Blonde”). At his bachelor party, Paul meets Becky (Julia Stiles, “Save The Last Dance”), a dancer whom he wakes up with the next morning, not sure if he actually slept with her. As Paul tries to figure out what happened that night, he must survive the inquisitions from Karen, Becky’s psycho ex-boyfriend, and his own uncertainties about marriage to find the answer.
“A Guy Thing” (IMDb listing) performs a series of near misses as it goes around trying to be sweet, humorous, and touching. It’s a comedy that never follows through on any of its ideas or comedic beats. It’s through my overflowing love for actor Jason Lee (“Mallrats,” “Chasing Amy,” “Mumford”) that this film remains watchable, as without him, “A Guy Thing” would be truly dreadful.
Stitching the film together from an uneven screenplay, director Chris Koch (“Snow Day”) doesn’t understand where to take “A Guy Thing” from scene to scene. He wants a polite romantic comedy, but cannot resist the urge – or perhaps the studio pressure – to insert tired moments of gross-out humor in an effort to keep the film interesting to even the most uninterested. The finest moments in “A Guy Thing” are the scenes in which we see the title in action, as various strangers and family help Paul try to cover his deceitful tracks and figure out whether he was actually unfaithful to Karen. These are honestly funny moments, and uphold the initial originality the film probably had during its early development. Then you get to scenes where Koch stages diarrhea jokes, or reverts to his unholy reliance on goofy reaction shots to keep the film moving. This kind of lowball tripe keeps “A Guy Thing” grounded, with no chance for victory.
As much faith as I have in Jason Lee, I can recognize when he needs to pay some bills. His work with Kevin Smith and Lawrence Kasdan notwithstanding, Lee is a tough actor to place. Koch relies heavily on Lee to be goofy for laughs, and that just isn’t Lee’s style. It’s a little embarrassing to see the actor having to mug uncontrollably for the camera. It doesn’t help matters to pair Lee up with gloomy Selma Blair and Julia Stiles, two very unpleasant actresses giving two very unpleasant performances. Lee will survive this (and his recent turn in the much better, but similarly awkward “Stealing Harvard”), but as far as his opportunity to play the “everyman” goes, I pray this is the extent of it.
Filmfodder Grade: C-