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can you leave please, we're trying to make a good movie over here...

PG-13

Jason Bateman, Jennifer Aniston, Jeff Goldblum, Juliette Lewis, Patrick Wilson, Thomas Robinson

Sebastian: Let’s put lice in the batter!
Wally: What is so funny to you about the concept of eating your own lice??
Sebastian: I don’t know, it’s just funny!

Wally (Bateman) and Kassie (Aniston) are best friends, though Wally wishes it was more than just a friendly relationship (even if he doesn’t realize that’s what he wants).  Kassie wants to have a baby and soon finds a donor to help her make this happen.  Through a series of events, a very drunken Wally ends up replacing the…donation…with his own…donation, though he doesn’t remember any of this.  Kassie gets pregnant and moves back to Minnesota to be around her family, but 7 years later Kassie and her son Sebastian (Robinson) move back to New York.  Upon meeting Sebastian, Wally begins to notice some similarities between himself and the little 6 year old.  Soon, memories from that night 7 years ago start emerging…

Here’s my theory on this movie (based only in my own imagination and no facts that I’ve seen anywhere):  at some point, there was an interesting, funny-ish script, all set to be made into a quality movie, but then somebody decided to drop it into the big Hollywoodization Machine, and this is what popped out.

In addition to suggesting a very predictable ending, the machine suggested that instead of hiring an actress to play an interesting lead character, Jennifer Aniston should be hired and told to just play herself.  And that’s the big problem with the movie.  There’s this interesting story, with some interesting characters and thought provoking situations, and right in the middle of it is this glamorous movie star.  She just doesn’t fit.

That’s not to say Aniston absolutely shouldn’t have been in the movie.  What I mean is that she should have been playing a character, not unlike the way she played a character in The Good Girl.  She is actually capable of that.  Instead, we have her walking around looking like a movie star, and it makes no sense to see her in the situation she’s in with the characters she’s surrounded by.

Also, the way she’s played (or not played) results in there being absolutely no chemistry between her and Bateman.  He’s a quirky, hypochondriac of a character, and their friendship just isn’t believable at all.  Caroline Dhavernas shows up for about 2 minutes playing a blind date gone sour, and just those two minutes show how much more interesting she would have been in the lead role.  Though, the age difference between her and Bateman probably wouldn’t have worked well either.

Thankfully, there are two characters that do have chemistry, and that’s Wally and the 6 year old Sebastian.  When these two are together, the movie takes on a whole different feel, and I was always sorry when Aniston came back into the mix.  They have interesting and funny stuff to talk about, they grow as characters via their interactions, and you can just tell they’re having a good time with each other.

There’s a good movie here, and it’s a shame that it had to get all Hollywooded up.  A more believable relationship between Wally and Kassie, as well as more nuanced supporting characters (Juliette Lewis and Patrick Wilson are underwritten, Goldblum is actually pretty funny), could have propelled this thing up to a higher level.

As is, it’s watchable, but still a disappointment.  Once again we have a character trying to overcome his fears stuck in a movie that’s too afraid to take chances.

Sometimes people do stupid things when they’re drunk.

10 – 2 because movie star Aniston just doesn’t fit in this movie – 1 because the supporting characters are too one dimensional – 1 because it could have been funnier + .2 for the Wally/Sebastian dynamic = 6.2

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