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The Object of My Affection

Starring Jennifer Aniston, Paul Rudd, Alan Alda and Nigel Hawthorne
Screenplay by Wendy Wasserstein
Directed by Nicholas Hytner
Website: www.foxmovies.com

IN SHORT:  zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Cranky usually makes no reference to the Source Material, the novel by Stephen McCauley, but in this case he had a strong feeling that the true object of the original novel was the "he," of the story and not the "she". Cranky was right. Someone in the marketing department must have had conniptions when this project crossed his/her desk.

You may have seen the television commercials for The Object of My Affection and thought, "How cute. A Jennifer Aniston battles the Dark Side of the heterosexual Force" movie. Can Jennifer win the man she loves? Can she bring him back to the breeder side? Or will she lose and send us walking out of the theaters muttering "Bummer . . ."

Yes, those would all be legit questions if The Object of My Affection were about the trials and travails of Nina Borowski (Aniston). Nope. It's really about the trials and travails of George Hanson (Paul Rudd) who never sways from his genetically programmed course and is sidetracked only by the need of an affordable apartment space in New York City. In a cast filled with and written by top name talent (Nigel Hawthorne, Alan Alda, and Wendy Wasserstein), The Object of My Affection is the equivalent of an overstocked trout pond surrounded by anxious fishermen possessing no hooks.

All the romance is on the wrong side of the gender line in this flick which, had it been made 10 years ago, would have won raves from card carrying liberals for refusing to push sexual stereotypes; for showing people as people, having the same fears and feelings of loneliness, regardless of sexual preference. On a technical level, all the actors involved in this project did a damn good job. Cranky believed all the performances on screen and all the Wasserstein-penned words coming out of their mouths. And a bunch of really shallow characters they all are, which is probably why The Object of My Affection bored Cranky silly. I don't care that guy gets guy and happiness. I don't believe the barely-supported-by-the-story romantic choice that Aniston's character makes or the forced happy ending it leads to.

The sitch: social worker Aniston has a lout of a boyfriend Vince (John Pankow, best known as Ira on Mad About You) who she won't allow to move into her apartment, though he spends most every night there anyway. Her step-sister Constance (Allison Janney) is married to an A-level literary agent (Alda) and both of them love dropping celebrity names. In her quest to save Nina from an eternity of living in Brooklyn, Constance inadvertently fixes her up with George, whose two week residency soon turns into a lengthy, though undefined term. This platonic setup is counterbalanced by a gay unrequited setup, theater critic Rodney Fraser (Hawthorne) and would be actor Paul James (Amo Gulinello). There's a black cop tossed into the mix, just so you shouldn't overdose on whitebread.

Frankly, at it's core, the story of a gay man finding true happiness holds absolutely no interest. As for showing me that true love works the same despite the vagaries of the gene pool, the reaction is a warmed over seen it already. The Object of My Affection isn't funny enough to distract you, indeed this "breeder" sitting in a mixed crowd felt culturally-challenged when the jokes touched on specific gay topics. How the hell do I know they were specifically gay topics? Even the bad jokes in (not to plug a competing studio) Odd Couple II made me laugh. A Good half dozen or so of the jokes in Object made absolutely no sense.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to The Object of My Affection, he would have paid . . .


Director Nicholas Hytner and actor Nigel Hawthorne last teamed for The Madness of King George, which won Hawthorne an Oscar nomination, which you should go out and rent instead of suffering through this turkey. As for star Jennifer Aniston, Cranky's feeling is that she's turned her back on her audience -- what may have seemed a great acting choice, is just a dumb career move. Another Friends cast member has flushed a big screen effort down the crapper.

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