June 24, 2008

That's a Tricycle!

The summer months offer very little television that I haven't already seen during the cooler months of the year - especially this year what with the scourge of the writers' strike having provided far fewer new episodes and a long period of reruns smack in the middle of the usually plentiful winter months - and I must do something to kill time between the Thursday So You Think You Can Dance results show and the performance show the following Wednesday. Which is why I've kept my TiVo busy recording a variety of low-rated movies from the Showtime channels that I watch at random times when there is nothing else on. I should be watching the rest of the Felicity DVDs but those are like potato chips - I can't watch just one - so I hesitate to start one when I know I'm going to need to hit the hay in fairly short order.

So last night I watched The Third Wheel starring Luke Wison, Denise Richards and Jay Lacopo who also wrote the screenplay. I'd seen this movie before a couple of years ago and aside from the title being a fairly big pet peeve of mine (it's FIFTH wheel: the expression is meant to imply that a person is extraneous and in the way, a completely unnecessary addition that serves no purpose, yet the addition of a third wheel to a two-wheeled vehicle provides stabilization, it's useful. However, if you add a fifth wheel to a 4-wheeled vehicle you've simply put another wheel where it's not needed. It's extraneous, in the way, unnecessary and serves no purpose. See what I mean?) the movie made only one impression on me the first time. That impression was "Ben Affleck and Melissa McCarthy are quite funny." Now that the movie is once again fresh in my head, I have other impressions that I'll share, just because I can (don't you LOVE the Internet?).

The set-up: Stanley (Luke Wilson) is lovable, hapless, a bit of a sad sack and bogglingly in love with Diane (Denise Richards) and everyone in their office knows it but her. After three years of mooning after her, water cooler gossip indicates that she's just broken up with her boyfriend and this is his opportunity to finally implement the elaborate plan he's developed (and kept documented on a laminated index card) to ask her out.

The plot: While on their date, Stanley accidentally hits homeless man/con-artist Phil (Jay Lacopo) with his car thus setting off of chain of events that keeps Phil tagging along on the date and makes Diane fall for Stanley.

The b-plot: Stanley's best friend and office mate Michael (Ben Affleck) helps him get the date and then starts a pool taking bets on every possible aspect of the date from whether or not it'll get past drinks to when, where and how physical contact will be made and whether or not the date will end with a kiss. He then throws a party where the pool is recorded on a giant white board (which employs color coding), and organizes several spy units to stake out every point along the way of the date so that they can keep tabs on the various opportunities for them to make or lose money. When it's his turn to spy on Stanley, Michael takes Marilyn (Melissa McCarthy) with him and the two of them head out on his motorcycle leaving first Ted (Steven Shenbaum) and then Sally (Nicole Sullivan) in charge of the big board.

This movie really should have been about the b-plot. Ben Affleck is hilarious and his final scene with Melissa McCarthy is so awesome it even makes the line "I've always wanted to get my swerve on on my bike!" seem funny.

I also thoroughly enjoyed the lip-syncing and dance sequence to Young MC's "Bust A Move" during the closing credits though I suspect I would have enjoyed it more if it hadn't actually had the credits running so intrusively over the action that I could barely see who was in the picture.

Bonus: We're treated to uncredited cameos from Lauren Graham as "Woman at Party" and Matt Damon as Diane's dickhead ex-boyfriend Kevin.

The movie is exactly as good as you'd expect a movie starring Denise Richards to be but it has it's redeeming qualities. I wouldn't recommend you go out of your way to watch it but if you happen upon it on cable some day and there isn't anything else on, you might want to give it a gander. At least for the b-plot moments.

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