A Guy Thing

(2003) * Pg-13
101 min. MGM Distribution Company. Director: Christopher Koch (II). Cast: Jason Lee, Julia Stiles, Selma Blair, James Brolin, Shawn Hatosy.

/content/films/4231/2.jpgFarce can hit the heights of comedy, but Hollywood has rarely attempted it in a pure form. Instead, studios pump out light farce after light farce, each a ninety-minute turd made up of obvious mixups and misunderstandings. A Guy Thing, which appears to have ended the feature-film career of director Chris Koch, is just such a movie. In fairness to Koch, he's now a successful sitcom director, helming the cleverer weekly light farces on ABC's Modern Family.

Back in 2003, though, Koch's job was to rip off Meet the Parents by directing a wan script credited to no less than four screenwriters. It's the tale of Paul (Jason Lee), an Everyman set to marry the nice enough but uninspiring Karen (Selma Blair). At his bachelor party, Paul meets cute with hula dancer Becky (Julia Stiles), drinks too much, and wakes up beside his new friend. What follows involves endless rounds of improvisatory lying as Paul discovers Becky is Karen's cousin and, as such, involved in pre-wedding festivities like family dinners (a good site for a lot of those Meet the Parents-esque gags). Despite ostensible best intentions, Paul and Karen can't clamber up from their slippery slope; instead, they keep falling for each other as they attempt to keep the truth from Karen, her father Ken (James Brolin), Paul's parents (Julie Hagerty and David Koechner), and, well, pretty much everyone else they meet. Complicating matters is Becky's psycho ex, a cop named Ray (Lochlyn Munro).

Basically what keeps A Guy Thing from total unwatchability is its not-untalented cast, which also includes Thomas Lennon as Paul's amusingly covetous brother and Larry Miller as a priest. The script belongs in Movie Hell, as it cycles through the same old cliches, like squares accidentally being dosed with drugs, overzealous pharmacists blaring out sensitive medical information (nothing like a good ol' venereal disease joke), and climactically scotched weddings. Attempts at heart are misbegotten, despite the efforts of Stiles and an almost disturbingly sympathetic Blair (good for her for not succumbing this time to playing some cardboard ballbuster). The most original idea here—and only by comparison, mind you—comes in the scene that gives the movie its title, as a complete stranger saves Paul at a pivotal moment of prevarication. But the guys in the audience aren't likely to extend Koch the same courtesy by giving this movie a pass, and the women? Fuggedaboutit.

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Aspect ratios: 1.85:1

Number of discs: 1

Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Street date: 7/5/2011

Distributor: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

MGM didn't invest much effort in its Blu-ray issue of A Guy Thing (and, let's face it, for good reason). We get what has to be a warmed-over old hi-def transfer and a serviceable DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround mix. The transfer's source is literally spotty (not a very clean print), and the prevailing softness leaves A Guy Thing looking only a bit better than a standard-def DVD. Why anyone would upgrade from DVD is anyone's guess, but I suppose a first-time adopter looking to complete a Julia Stiles collection would find this release worthwhile at the right (bargain-bin) price.

One wouldn't expect much of a supplementary package for a mostly disliked 2003 comedy, but one would be wrong. Things kick off here with a friendly audio commentary with director Chris Koch, Jason Lee, Julia Stiles, Selma Blair, and Thomas Lennon. Also lined up on the disc are making-of featurette "Inside A Guy Thing" (18:38, SD), with set footage and cast and crew interviews; "Bachelor Party Confidential" (9:14, SD), with bachelor-party-themed comments from cast and crew; "Groovy Gravy: Making the Scene in A Guy Thing" (5:25, SD), looking at the filming of a particular scene; seven "Deleted Scenes" (17:02, SD) with an optional director's intros; three "Alternate Endings" (8:14, SD); a "Gag Reel" (11:49, SD); and the film's "Theatrical Trailer" (2:21, HD).

Review gear:
Panasonic Viera TC-P55VT30 55" Plasma 1080p 3D HDTV
Oppo BDP-93 Universal Network 3D Blu-ray Disc Player
Denon AVR2112CI Integrated Network A/V Surround Receiver
Pioneer SP-BS41-LR Bookshelf Speaker (2)
Pioneer SP-C21 Center Speaker
Pioneer SW-8 Subwoofer

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