Sunday, February 1, 2009


Info: I must admit I know very little about "Men" other than with that title it could be about anything.

Writer: Allan Loeb

TOBY is an attractive 40 year old ad exec who has the perfect life: the sexy Manhattan condo, one of the rarest cars in the world, a job to dream for, and of course, Amy, his beautiful wife. One night during a business dinner Amy informs him that she’s been sleeping with another man. The two separate and Toby proceeds to find out where the the man lives, befriends him, and yes, actually moves in with him. (Is it just me or would "Moving In" be a more appropriate title for this premise?)

Men was a hard one to get a handle on because the first 15 pages were so steely, so devoid of any humor, that you're left scratching your head when 30 pages later the script turns into a Jack Black movie. I think the writer might disagree with me here but any script that contains your main character throwing on a Gorilla mask to prevent his wife from recognizing him – even playing off her questions with a series of grunts and nods, is pretty darn broad.

But once you figure out what kind of story you're being told, it's not half-bad. Toby moves into "the other man's" place (Ryan - an artsy surfer bohemian type) which provides some pretty funny moments. Toby listens in on phone conversations with Ryan and his wife. He dolls out bad advice to Ryan. He must listen to Ryan describe having sex with his wife. You know sooner or later he’s going to get caught, and it’s fun watching him squirm his way out of situations before the gig is up.

One of the problems here is buying into the idea that someone would actually do this. Move into someone else's apartment and pretend you're another person to get your wife back? Even if you get past this, are you really going to believe that Toby would hire Ryan in an attempt to give him less time with his wife, and inform everybody at the office to go along with it?? That's risking like 700 lawsuits when Ryan finds out. I maybe could have made this leap if the script had introduced a broader tone. But like I said, it starts out very serious. Once you establish your universe, you can't just change the rules when you feel like it.

My biggest problem with Men though is that I never really knew any of the characters. Toby was the most developed. But even with him I didn’t know his hopes, his dreams, what it is that made him the man he was. And Ryan, the lover, was basically a cardboard cutout of every bohemian surfer-type you’ve seen at the beach. There was nothing unique or interesting about him. It left me wondering why Toby’s wife liked this guy at all. And because the script ultimately becomes about the friendship of these two "Men", knowing who they were was pretty important, wouldn't you think?

Having said that, Men was a breezy read. I wasn't disappointed in the experience. Just a little confused at times. I hope in the rewrites they fix the tonal problems and beef up the characters . But even if they do, I still have a hard time seeing this get to your local cineplex.