The comedy and the pathos of the movie lie in the old truth that, whether the setting is gay or hetero, little time passes before the players try to control the plans and dreams of each other.
"The Object of My Affection" makes good fun of gender confusion while glossing over the emotions of its principals. An appealing cast carries the comedy, while reality pricks and pierces the material from time to time to remind us that nothing is as light and funny as it seems. An undercoat of poignancy lies beneath the fun.
Nina (Jennifer Aniston) takes in a roommate, George (Paul Rudd), after he has been thrown over by his pretentious lout of a boyfriend. After a lovely getting-to-know-you period during which she and George discover they have in common a sweet sensitivity, Nina finds she is pregnant by the noisy dullard Vince (John Pankow). What would you do? Of course you would. You would tell sweet, gay George that you want him to raise the child with you, after telling the self-absorbed father to get lost. "I want to raise my child with George, Vince." It's a millennium moment.
Nina's brother-in-law, Sidney (Alan Alda), and her older sister, Constance (Allison Janney), dash in and out as a reigning literary agent and his celebrity-obsessed wife. Alda pratters incessantly in one of his extended conversations with himself, while Janney gets off some really nasty comic stuff in the guise of advice to her sister.
Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd are thoroughly appealing as the roommates who wish they shared the same sexual orientation. They offer some lovely moments between a man and a woman whose friendship is unhindered by the politics of sex. Wishing doesn't make it true, however, and George's old appetites are rekindled as he recovers.
Nina, pregnant and alone, yet knowing the self-absorbed father of her child is not an option, wants George. Sweet George wants Paul. But Nicholas Hytner, whose direction is breezy and full of fun, never follows his own leads into the souls of his characters. Ultimately he and scriptwriter Wendy Wasserstein, who often reaches for neat solutions at the expense of depth, opt for an ending of over-the-top silliness that allows them-and the audience-to go happily into the night with a smile.
As light and occasionally charming as the movie is, sadness envelops the characters. Nigel Hawthorne, as a gay drama critic, brings a worldly comprehension to the events unfolding before him. His unassuming yet touching appearance is the strong reminder that this movie, with all its frivolity, is rooted in the often painful gender politics of our day.
The comedy and the pathos of the movie lie in the old truth that, whether the setting is gay or hetero, little time passes before the players try to control the plans and dreams of each other. Enter one other person, and life becomes complex; enter gender confusion, and the hurt simply doubles. Although a nice cast creates lots of surface laughs, the movie ultimately sidesteps the questions it raises. "You can't choose who you love," no matter how hard you may try to make it work.
Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Word Count : 491
Studio : 20th Century Fox
Rating : R
Running Time: 1h52m
Copyright (c) Illusion
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