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These days, it often appears as if Hollywood has forgotten the recipe for whipping up romantic screwball comedies without turning the fare into overstuffed, cinematic disasters. But Michael Showalter, who wrote, directed and stars as a repressed accountant in The Baxter, pulls it off with the aid of a group of talented comedy players. His Elliot Sherman is the classic "guy left at the altar" in romantic movies. Elliot is the wrong guy for the right girl, the same sort of earnest chap that Ralph Bellamy used to play in movies like His Girl Friday. Elliot, a decent fellow with an alert, birdlike mien, can't believe his good luck when he lands blonde bombshell Caroline (Elizabeth Banks), but he knows full well that he's what his grandma called a "baxter"; namely, the kind of dull, old-fashioned guy that a Caroline may sometimes settle for, but could never truly love. And that means that disaster is on the way in the form of a dashing and handsome old boyfriend (Justin Theroux). Elliot's humiliation at the altar is all but inevitable; and so distressed is good-hearted Elliot at the prospect of another romantic disaster in his life that he barely registers that the cute office temp (Michelle Williams), a Minnesotan newly arrived in the Big Apple, who shares his love of reading the dictionary, is smitten with him.
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[BAXTE] | 2005 | 91 | Narrative Feature
Foreign Title: (The Baxter)
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About the Director(s)Collapse
The Baxter marks Michael Showalter's feature directorial and screenwriting debut. A founding member of the popular MTV sketch troupe The State, he joined forces with his State collaborators to form the audacious comedy trio, Stella, described as "the Marx Brothers of the 21st Century." Stella has just finished its second national tour and completed a special and a pilot for Comedy Central. Showalter co-wrote, co-produced and starred in the film Wet Hot American Summer , directed by David Wain and co-starring Janeane Garofalo, David Hyde-Pierce and Molly Shannon. As an actor, he has appeared in numerous films, TV shows, and plays including Kissing Jessica Stein, Signs, Sex and the City, The Daily Show, Law & Order, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning How I Learned To Drive. Currently, Showalter is on the road touring with Stella and at work on another screenplay.