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  • Writer's pictureShannon Heibler

The Baxter (2005)

A brief synopsis for this movie that, sadly, no one has ever heard of when I bring it up: The Baxter breaks the fourth wall early and gently to identify that it sucks for the guy inevitably left at the altar at the end of your standard romcom. He's probably earnestly heartbroken - why don't we care about him? The term for these sadsacks, we're told, is "baxter." And this is one baxter's story.


This is a deep cut independent film full of people you know and love. A rule I have for watching movies is that I won't watch a film full of actors I adore but in a title I've never heard of (unless trusted friends recommend it). This one might have slipped under my radar but I distinctly remember seeing the trailer on some art house film I'd rented from Four Star Video Heaven (cheers to all who spent their UW-Madison time trawling copies of The Onion for two-for-one rental coupons for Four Star!) and thinking it looked darling. Funnily enough, I didn't know many of these actors then, nor had I seen the well loved vehicle that brought all of them together originally: Wet Hot American Summer.


I love this film. It's quirky and melancholy and hopeful and damn if that isn't me in a nutshell. It's dryly funny - though these days I find the awkward bits a little painful in how real they are - and surprisingly honest. I find most romcoms difficult to relate to but this one is small and intimate and true to life.


Michael Showalter, who wrote and starred in this film, captures feelings of having your life being "perfect" and well ordered and still feeling incredibly lost. I pondered whether or not someone else might have been better in the title role but he's just cute and just awkward enough. The casting for this flick is, as the kids say, *chef's kiss*. As the baxter's picture perfect but ill-fated bride to be: Elizabeth Banks. As the so-much-fun-to-hate lost love who sweeps her away: Justin Theroux. As the really perfect and deeply quirky girl for the baxter: Michelle Williams (before anyone knew how incredible she is). There are also appearances from Michael Ian Black, Paul Rudd, PETER DINKLAGE (some day I'll get my PhD in pop culture and my thesis will be on Peter Dinklage's early 2000s work), and More!



It's just lovely. I remembered it being more laugh-out-loud funny but it felt more like a gentle hug. I'm so crazy about Justin Theroux and Elizabeth Banks because they are actors who always know exactly how they fit into a film. They seem game, and fun, and they pull and drop focus like absolute fucking pros.


This was an uncommon film in the project in that I knew what I wanted to do for it as I pushed play. Elliot (Showalter) and Cecil (Williams) have their meet-cute and bond over the fact that they're both reading the dictionary for fun, leading to one of my favorite movie quotes ever: "G! Oh G's a classic." They are both particularly fond of the word "gromwell" and recite the definition in unison.


Embroidery on cotton.



Takeaways:

-gosh this took a long time. I didn't set a timer but as I got started pretty quickly and spent an hour-ish a day (until this morning when I spent four)... I undercharge for my embroidery work haha

-I'm amused that I did this in the style that I did - I'm taking a seminar on blackwork embroidery tomorrow. What will I learn that I could have used?

-I really love working in embroidery. [wait for it] I should do it more.

-Why can I never remember how to start a blanket stitch when I'm finishing the back?

-I really like how the back of embroidery looks. It's almost a shame it's never seen.



Please track down The Baxter and give it a watch! It's like hot cocoa for your soul. Happy New Year!!

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