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The Baxter

The Baxter (2005)

August. 26,2005
| Comedy Romance

A man with a "doormat" personality tries standing up for himself for a change in this comedy. Mild mannered tax accountant Elliot Sherman is what he calls a "Baxter": the kind of calm, unexciting fellow who "wears sock garters" and "enjoys raking leaves." Loved by bosses and parents, Elliot is a perfectly nice guy. And that's his problem.


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This film is about a man who is unlucky in love due to his rigid ways. He learns to break his bad luck by breaking his behavioural pattern."The Baxter" is actually an interesting look at this accountant who is rather unlucky with ladies. His character is interesting, as he is not particularly likable, but he radiates a mischievous charm. "The Baxter" is an unconventional romantic comedy, it is a little dark but it is quite funny at the same time. I particularly found the argument in flat scene and the date in hamburger joint scene funny.For some unknown reason, I find "The Baxter" having an ability to stretch time. I thought I have watched at least an hour when in fact I watched only 30 minutes. Maybe it's the dialog heavy script, or the lack of spacing scenes, or the lack of lighthearted bubbly scenes to sooth the atmosphere. I am not saying it is boring or bad, because it is not.


I'll go so far as to say "The Baxter" is a true romantic comedy. It's the type of romance that we want to believe in, and it's very funny.Written by, directed by, and starring Michael Showalter, he's a baxter. He's the type of man that women settle for, or leave, for their more handsome ex. He plays it with such awkwardness and quirky charm that it's impossible not to fall for him, and laugh with him along the way. The movie begins with him meeting two women, Michelle Williams who has the same awkwardness and quirky charm, and the beautiful Elizabeth Banks. He's captivated by Banks' beauty, but immediately wary of her "perfect" ex-boyfriend (Justin Theroux).It's a comedy of exes and trying to hold on to true love, whatever that may be. It's the classic romantic comedy tale, except told from a different angle - the point of view of "The Baxter". He's the hero that we can completely relate to, and not so much feel sorry for, but just laugh and enjoy our time with. The comedy is smart, fresh, and very, very funny. My recommendation is to watch it, and to watch all the way through to the end of the credits - they add another little twist which most romantic comedies aren't self-aware enough to include.


I thought the actors in The Baxter were well cast. It also has a promising beginning and fun, smile-making finale. The string of relationship mini-horrors were amusing and occasionally charming.However, it managed to feel longer than its 90 minutes. I know that since the film was made for laughs, it's not essential to get that complex with plot or people. But even knowing the story outcome and being cool with that, I just wanted a few character surprises to intrigue me enough throughout the movie's middle. Also, I wasn't sure if I had sympathy for Elliot or not. He seemed a bit of an empty shell for someone who is successful, enjoys learning, and is the story's main focus. Even though Elliot's fiancée Caroline might have been settling for him all along, I still ended up liking her more than him.Don't get me wrong. I don't regret seeing The Baxter. It's just that I've seen funnier and more real (at least in theory) movie dweebs via Napolean Dynamite, Office Space, and even the first Revenge of the Nerds (well, Booger anyway).


I really feel like this movie makes a statement, too subtle for some to hear, but nevertheless a statement for those of us who came of age in the 80's. I kept having flashbacks to the late 80s early 90s while watching this. Maybe it was the reticence or shyness of the leads, or the haunting score, or the theme of missed opportunities and compromises in love. Something about this movies strikes a chord in me and my broken heart. It chimes with Sideways for me somehow. It is a great, great film. Just know, that however tough life seems, you don't know what you've got till it's gone. Be sure you watch the credits to the end...the very end. There are surprises!