On the one hand, Elliot Sherman (Michael Showalter), the pudding-headed accountant who defines ”Baxter” as a guy (particularly in classic romance movies) who occupies the losing corner of any love triangle, is seen sharing a bed with his fiancée, Caroline Swann. And she’s a catch, a chic blondie (played with comic cool by Elizabeth Banks) who evidently gives him the time of night as well as of day. On the other hand, the two kiss as chastely as siblings. So whether Elliot — who gets dumped when Caroline’s hot old beau, Bradley Lake (Justin Theroux), reappears — qualifies for the 40-Year-Old Virgin Club is unclear.
Anyhow, sex doesn’t figure into The Baxter, Showalter’s strained romantic comedy; exaggerated arrested development does, of a guy kind that congratulates adult men on their dweebishness, assuming that dweebishness is of the hipster Brooklyn variety. The writer-director-star, who’s also a third of the comic trio Stella, declares in voice-over narration that he’s standing up for nice, dumped guys everywhere. He’s encouraging them to be themselves because somewhere out there is a gal, a Baxterette, who’s as kind and patient and adorable as Michelle Williams is, playing an office temp/singer who loves Elliot as a first choice, not a second.
So is this what nice, dumped guys everywhere are like? Nerds, dweebs, losers humiliated by chic blondies? Sheesh, tough crowd, those Brooklyn hipsters. Fellow Stellans Michael Ian Black and David Wain drop by as mouth breathers, while The Station Agent‘s Peter Dinklage provides diversion as a gay wedding planner who was probably rooting for Caroline to run off with Bradley all along: Then she’d be Mrs. Swann-Lake.