Just what is the "guy thing" alluded to by Chris Koch's comedy A Guy Thing? Is it waking up next to a woman you met the night before at your bachelor party? Is it munching dry Count Chocula and hashing out girl trouble with your best bud? The answer is far less benign in this horribly misconceived, faded xerox of bad romantic comedies past.
This high-strung exercise in futility pairs Jason Lee with Julia Stiles. Lee's the soon-to-be-married man and Stiles his bachelor-party pick-up. Lee must frenetically juggle friends and family--particularly fiancée Selma Blair--as the big day approaches. The lively Lee has proven time and again not to be leading-man material (he's better as a tart sidekick than a bland hero), and a blasé Stiles looks like she's stewing about what she's going to do to her agent. Their thinly-drawn "romance" utterly lacks in chemistry or sense, which might explain why Ringo Starr sings "Sometimes you blink and you're in love" over the fadeout.
On cop shows, detectives always complain about perps being "lawyered up." Movie critics complain about movies being "screenwritered up," or, at least, they should. Greg Glienna wrote A Guy Thing, which was then rewritten by Pete Schwaba, noted sitcom writer-producer Matt Tarses & Bill Wrubel. Director Koch, whose first feature was Snow Day, takes the tack of trying to sell the movie's "charming" quirks. Employing the likably eccentric musical choices of former Devo front-man Mark Mothersbaugh (abetted by music supervisor Maureen Crowe) was a nice try, but touches like a jealous ex-boyfriend who talks to his pecs probably didn't need to be overplayed any more than absolutely necessary. But perhaps I'm just being conservative.
A Guy Thing's two biggest problems are these: it is derivative, and it is not funny. The biggest laughs from the preview audience came at plagiarized jokes, like the old gag about making up an outlandish description of an imaginary mugger and an poor, innocent soul inevitably fitting that description. A Guy Thing also channels Dumb and Dumber and Meet the Parents--which Glienna initially wrote--with an extended bathroom diarrhea scene that eventually sends Lee out the second-story window of his in-laws' house (an earlier sequence details burning crotch pain caused by crabs). Such tedium culminates in the timeworn device of giving the hero a monologue in which he recites the litany of disasters he has had to endure over the course of the picture. We know, we were there.