December 4, 2010

The Baxter/The State

Editor's Note: This is the first in a new series called Watch It Instantly where I will review and recommend movies from Netflix’s Watch Instantly collection.

In Michael Showalter’s directorial debut he brings along plenty of old friends and a few new faces to round out a terrific cast for the hilarious 2005 film The Baxter. An extremely tight and well written script carries this smart comedy disguised as a generic romantic-comedy. The film's cast consists of Michelle Williams, Elizabeth Banks, Justin Theroux, Peter Dinklage, Paul Rudd and many members of Showalter’s own comedy troupe, The State. An extremely well acted film all around, the actors appear so comfortable with each other and each line flows right into the next one that it feels real even though it takes place in Showalter's goofy world. Sure, the story is predictable but stay for the jokes because these guys know comedy and this is how it should be done--with a little bit of heart and emotion behind it. 

Speaking of The State, the entire series of their self-titled MTV show that ran from '93-'95 is also streaming on Netlflix. You're probably more aware of their work than you may think. Alumni of the state have gone on to create the films Wet Hot American Summer and Role Models and such television shows as Reno 911, Stella and Michael and Michael Have Issues—the latter two featuring Showalter heavily. The show The State was a sketch show in the same vain as Mr. Show where he sketches move quickly so if one doesn’t hit, stick with it and two minutes later you’ll be laughing once again.

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