The Object of My Affection (1998)

What a mediocre movie.

And what a testament to Paul Rudd’s acting.

Rudd manages to elevate his character to rise above the pedestrain motions of the script.

When Jennifer Anniston’s Nina proposes Rudd’s George should help raise her baby, he says nothing but his body language speaks volumes of his discomfort.

While George eats ice cream to comfort himself over his recent break-up, his hunched shoulders show how much the situation weighs on him.

And his face when he’s caught between his friendship with Nina and his growing romance with Paul — it’s all there.

Of course, I have a crush on Paul Rudd, so I may be a little biased.

But really — The Object of My Affection doesn’t really paint outside too many lines. There’s the politically-correct ending, where everyone becomes one, big, multicultural, multigenerational extended family. There’s the dance numbers that aren’t dance numbers complete with mood lighting. There’s the insufferable in-laws and nosy neighbors.

If anything screamed “romantic comedy”, The Object of My Affection does, never mind the straight girl meets gay guy twist.

Thing is, The Object of My Affection led the way to Will & Grace, so some good did come out of it.

Rudd, though, is the only thing that makes this movie remotely engaging. He makes George’s vulnerabilities feel believable. Anniston pulls some of her own weight as well, but she doesn’t give Nina the same kind of roundness Rudd gives to George.

Allison Janney does a great turn as Nina’s priveleged sister whose notion of tolerance is wrapped around an unconscious condesension. Oddly enough, Alan Alda is pretty annoying as her husband, the absent-minded publisher.

John Pankow, who plays Nina’s boyfriend and father of her child, is annoying on principal, but lo the gods of typecasting strike. And Nigel Hawthorne does an incredible job as Nina’s situational mirror, but there’s a sense even his role is meant to spell out the obvious to the audience.

The Object of My Affection does an OK job about exploring the dynamics of requited affection, but it doesn’t tread nearly as far as other films of the same ilk. (Bedrooms and Hallways, anyone?)

Paul Rudd, though, is very pretty, and he’s damn fine actor to boot.