Instant Watching: The Baxter

In her weekly column, Instant Watching, Christie Dean talks about recently produced obscure and independent films that are made available through Netflix’s Instant Watch feature.

According to this week’s film, a “baxter” is a nice, old-fashioned guy who possesses little quirks (e.g. has several allergies) and who is easy to be with—who women settle for when they can’t be with their dream man. He is the guy in the romantic comedy who gets left behind at the altar after the leading man barges into the chapel and wins over the bride-to-be with an endearing proclamation of love. Whatever happens to the stranded groom-to-be, while his fiancee goes on to live happily ever after with somebody else? The Baxter begins with a scenario exactly like this.

The Baxter jumps around in time, showing first the end of the movie then back-tracking to when Elliot Sherman (Michael Showalter) meets his bride-to-be Caroline Swann (Elizabeth Banks) at the accounting firm where he works. After this, the movie fast-forwards to two weeks before their wedding. Elliot and Caroline are at a bar for a party, thrown by Caroline’s high school friends, where an “act of God” reunites Caroline with her high school sweetheart Bradley (Justin Theroux), whom she hasn’t seen in fifteen years. This puts Elliot on edge, since he has a proven track record of losing girlfriends to former flames, and he chalks this event up as another instance where destiny is showing him that he is a “baxter” and will never get married. Similar to a lot of romantic comedies, the idea of finding your soul mate through strange coincidences and taking risks based on your gut feelings is prominent, and Elliot’s focus on being content and safe prevents him from going after what, or who, he really wants.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Baxter despite its predictability; I made the mistake of reading some negative critic reviews on Rotten Tomatoes before watching the film and therefore I hesitated for a while before giving it a chance. Sure, it’s predictable, especially since the audience will know the end of the movie after pretty much the first ten minutes. But it’s charming, hilarious, full of very familiar faces (including Michelle Williams and Paul Rudd), and it appealed to those who may be a little nerdy and awkward in their own right… which is probably the reason why I watched it twice.

You can watch the trailer for The Baxter on Rotten Tomatoes:

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