We've all seen the romantic comedy where the fair blonde heroine is in the church, at the altar and just about to marry the absolute wrong guy, when the right guy (handsome, charming, maybe a little unorthodox, but romantic as all hell) comes charging in and brings things to a screeching halt. Girl marries right guy and everybody goes home happy. Only what happens to the other, not-so-right guy? Michael Showalter's promising, quite funny, but ultimately underwhelming The Baxter is the film about that guy, starting with that quintessential wedding moment and then flashing back to what led up to it.

The guy in question here is Elliot Sherman (Showalter), a dishwater dull C.P.A. whose grandmother had a word for nice guys like him who never got the girl: a Baxter. Played by Showalter as a nerdy bore with a basically decent disposition, Elliot is on the verge of starting a minor flirtation with Cecil (Michelle Williams), the temp filling in for his sick secretary, when in walks his WASP-ily gorgeous new client Caroline (Elizabeth Banks), who promptly sweeps him off his feet with her Ralph Lauren-ad-ready looks. Although it's difficult to see why such a bombshell as Caroline would fall for a guy the film spends so much time trying to make look like a first-degree schlub, the oddball pairing does make for some decent comic contretemps, and easily sets up Elliot's downfall when Caroline's ex-boyfriend, Bradley, shows up. A darkly handsome, adventurous, and wealthy scientist who likes to quote Keats and isn't afraid of showing his sensitive side, Bradley (Justin Theroux, slyly magnificent) is like kryptonite to a Baxter, and the rest of the film is just biding time until the inevitable happens.

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