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The Object Of My Affection - In this ultra-hip, multilayered comedy, triangles and emotional imbroglios take on a new meaning. Well, at least they try. Jennifer Aniston plays a straight woman who falls in love with a gay man (Paul Rudd). She invites him to move in with her just hours after they meet. As their friendship progresses, she learns she is pregnant, and wants Rudd to act as daddy to her newborn, much to the consternation of her overbearing boyfriend (John Pankow).
The film takes itself too seriously, although there is some genuine emotion buried in Wendy Wasserstein's clunky script. It is not that the relationships are unbelievable; it is that the story lurches forward from one stilted setup to another. And unfortunately, characters are motivated by unknown forces to take on major life changes without explanation. More fortunate are two very likable performances by Rudd, who wisely plays this without cute, homosexual tics, and a most perky and appealing Aniston. Supporting actor Nigel Hawthorne walks away with the film as a gay drama critic who imparts a few important life lessons as he learns one of his own. --Rochelle O'Gorman
Picture Perfect - If you can get past Jennifer Aniston's form-fitting wardrobe in a movie about a woman struggling to advance in her profession, this romantic comedy is a fair match with My Best Friend's Wedding. Both films feature conniving, self-centered heroines who undergo a transformation--Aniston presents a bogus fianc?Jerry Maguire's Jay Mohr) to impress her advertising agency boss and gradually discovers a mutual attraction with the imposter. Both movies go off in delightfully unpredictable directions. Picture Perfect falls prey to occasional sitcom fluff, but it's a fine showcase for Aniston's comedic and dramatic attributes. Critics were mixed-to-harsh in reviews for this movie, perhaps because it's a bit derivative and poses slight challenge to Aniston, who proved her skill with light comedy as a principal cast member of TV's Friends sitcom. It's clear that Aniston is a fine comedian, and she shows that talent to advantage in Picture Perfect. --Jeff Shannon
She's the One is actor-writer-director Edward Burns' second film, following the widely acclaimed The Brothers McMullen. Given a slightly larger budget to play with ($3m as against his debut project's $25,000), Burns revisits much the same territory--love and sibling rivalry within a New York Irish-American family--but rather more expansively. This time, too, he can run to a few stars-in-the-making (Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Aniston, and John Mahoney from Frasier) to jazz up his cast of relative unknowns.
Burns himself plays Mickey, a cab-driver in the Big Apple, with Mike McGlone as his yuppie stockbroker brother, and Maxine Bahns as Hope, the girl Mickey falls for and impulsively marries, much to the romantic delight of Francis's neglected wife Renee (Aniston). Francis, meanwhile, is having a clandestine affair with Heather (Diaz), Mike's former girlfriend--something Mike has yet to learn. Dispensing flawed wisdom and generally muddying the waters yet further is the lads' blunt-spoken father (Mahoney).
Plotwise that's about it. Burns relies on his appealing cast and some amiably barbed repartee to hold our interest in what's essentially a dialogue-driven movie. He makes shrewd and sometimes unexpected use of his New York locations, too--it's a fair bet most people's mental image of Brooklyn wouldn't include a waterfront fishing community. This is a good-natured, slightly old-fashioned movie whose benevolent view of the battle of the sexes (where the women are invariably smarter than the men) never digs too deep or hits too hard.--Philip Kemp
Office Space - Office Space is a movie for anyone who's ever spent eight hours in a "Productivity Bin", had to endure a smarmy, condescending boss, had worries about layoffs, or just had the urge to demolish a temperamental printer or fax machine. Peter (Ron Livingston) spends the day doing stupefyingly dull computer work in a cubicle. He goes home to an apartment sparsely furnished by IKEA and Target, then starts for a maddening commute to work again in the morning.
His co-workers in the cube farm are an annoying lot, his boss is a snide, patronising jerk, and his days are consumed with tedium. In desperation, he turns to career hypnotherapy, but when his hypno-induced relaxation takes hold, there's no shutting it off. Layoffs are in the air at his corporation and with two colleagues (both of whom are slated for the chute) he devises a scheme to skim funds from company accounts. The scam soon snowballs, however, throwing the three into a panic until the unexpected happens and saves the day.
A little bit like a US version of The Office before it was actually made, director Mike (King of the Hill) Judge's debut movie is a spot-on look at work in corporate America circa 1999. With well-drawn characters and situations instantly familiar to the white-collar milieu, he captures the joylessness of many a cube denizen's work life perfectly. Jennifer Aniston, a waitress at Chotchkie's, a generic beer-and-burger joint, plays Peter's love interest and Diedrich Bader has a minor but hilarious turn as Peter's moustached, long-haired, drywall-installin' neighbour. --Jerry Renshaw
The Good Girl - In The Good Girl Jennifer Aniston gets a make-under that would make her Friends character weep, but she finally proves her acting mettle away from the ditzy-but-glamorous Rachel type. A low-key drama from the writer and director duo behind Chuck and Buck, The Good Girl places Aniston's bored shop-girl Justine at the centre of a soul-destroying life in a sleepy Texan town. Like a modern Madame Bovary, Justine's life is stuck in a rut--her marriage is dull and her job at the Retail Rodeo even duller--when a new colleague Holden (Jake Gyllenhaal) offers her an escape. A tortured soul who's obsessed with The Catcher in the Rye and thinks nobody understands him, Holden is a typical, angst-ridden young man. But to Justine he's intriguing and romantic and their shared sense of dejection soon leads to an affair and a short-lived liberation from their daily lives.