If you made a copy of a copy of a copy of “Meet the Parents” and then ran it through one of those script-generating software programs advertised in the back of movie magazines, you might come out with something like “A Guy Thing,” a completely inept attempted screwball comedy without a single memorable moment.
Jason Lee plays Paul, a guy so risk-averse that he gives the “groom” hat at his bachelor party to his best man, so that the dancing “tiki girls” in grass skirts won’t pay any attention to him. Yet somehow he wakes up the next morning, hung over, with one of those dancing girls (Julia Stiles) in his bed. Oh, no – his fiancée (Selma Blair) is coming over and the girl can’t find her underpants. He manages to get her out of his apartment and hide the panties, but then it turns out that she is his fiancée’s cousin Becky, so she keeps turning up at all the family events. There is much faux humor about Paul pretending to have a massive gastro-intestinal disorder, getting an itchy STD and having to get some medication which is discussed loudly in the pharmacy as his future mother-in-law is standing there; the steroid rage of Becky’s ex-fiancé, an evidence-planting cop; a rehearsal dinner spiked with pot; and some dirty pictures found by a young boy that end up stuck together, not with glue.
This is a step down for everyone associated with it, including director Chris Koch, who made a promising debut with “Snow Day,” and Lee, Blair, and Stiles, who show no energy whatsoever. One reason the script seems so much like “Meet the Parents” is that the story is by the same writer, though even four screenwriters could not manage to come up with a single memorable line of dialogue, character to care about, believable motivation, or genuinely funny moment. Every joke and plot development is telegraphed so ham-handedly that it is instantly anticlimactic. There are sit-coms on the WB that have more laughs before the first commercial than this movie has in 90 minutes.
Parents should know that the movie has gross humor and very mature material for a PG-13, including graphic references to a sexually transmitted disease, masturbation, drugs, and adultery. Characters use very strong language and there is social drinking to excess, at one point resulting in the encounter that triggers the plot. A character is beat up and arrested for possession of cocaine. There is also such a weird sort of homophobic vibe to some of the jokes that for one mad moment I actually thought the big pay-off was that Paul was going to turn out to be gay.
Families who see this movie should talk about the way Paul and Becky think about fears and what his behavior and attraction to Becky should tell him about his plan to marry his boss’ daughter.
Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy “Meet the Parents” (raunchy and very crude humor) and some of the classic screwball comedies like “Bringing Up Baby” and “My Man Godfrey.”