Romantic comedy with a twist falls victim to disappointing script, subpar acting

There is no real way to describe The Object of My Affection. TV trailers make the movie sound like a romantic comedy. However, the only laughs this movie inspired came from its confusing plot twists and mixed messages, not its jokes.

At its heart, Object tries to be rather serious in its portrayal of the love life of social worker Nina Borrowski (Jennifer Aniston). Frustrated by her lawyer-boyfriend Vincent McBride (Victor Pankow), she falls in love with her gay roommate George Hanson (Paul Rudd). George, who has recently split up with a longtime lover, becomes romantically involved with Nina, who happens to be carrying Vincent’s child. Nina and Vincent break up, with George offering to take care of the baby in Vincent’s absence. Throughout all of this, Nina’s rich stepsister Constance urges Nina to break free from the loser lawyer Vincent and the nursery-school-teaching George, and instead hitch up with a rich advertising executive.

By this time, viewers may already be lost. Unfortunately, the plot gets more confusing and involves an inordinate number of love triangles reminiscent of Wild Things or “The Jerry Springer Show.” George and Nina agree not to marry each other, with George being free to pursue a homosexual partnership in the meantime. Despite the obvious shows of affection between George and Nina, George still seems to be more interested in men than in women.

The movie’s major flaw lies in its confused plot. It tries to be serious, but every scene of the movie involves a new relationship or some sort of sexual overtone. Object seems to go one direction and then suddenly turns around in a very confusing manner. Indeed, there are many more plot twists to the movie than those described here.

The acting in the movie was less than stellar. Aniston plays — no big surprise here — a twenty-something single woman in New York desperate for love. The main problem with Aniston was her lack of plausibility. The script attempts to give Aniston a new role as the poor social worker living in Brooklyn. However, instead of trying to fit the new role given to her, Aniston plays Nina in the same manner she plays Rachel on Friends. Certainly one would hope that Aniston could make Nina a bit different from her usual television character, but such was not the case.

Rudd was good at times, especially in his non-stereotypical portrayal of a homosexual man. On the other hand, Pankow (Mad About You), did not do a very good job. He alternated between exhibiting a calm, easygoing manner to letting loose with sudden bursts of anger, with much of his emotion seeming forced.

The presence of such television stars as Aniston and Pankow reflected the sitcom-like nature of this movie. The film does not know what it wants to be, and like a sitcom, it throws down every message it can to the audience in the hopes that it will provoke some type of melodramatic response.

Clearly, love is the main theme surrounding this movie. However, the movie again twists in weird ways and ends up trying to deliver messages on issues such as homosexuality, class conflicts, education and parenting. Object spreads itself thin in this regard by focusing on way too many issues.

Indeed, the perplexing number of plot twists and messages intertwined in the movie deprive the viewer of any sympathy they may have for Nina. It is hard for the viewer to feel anything at all when faced with such an amorphous main message.

Toward the end however, the message becomes somewhat clearer. To illustrate the importance of monogamy, Aniston is told by another that she should be the sole object of another person’s affection. Yet that message, while it allows us to understand the significance of the movie’s title, becomes conflicted with the different directions this movie takes its viewer.

Clearly Object needs to tighten its script and reduce the number of themes to a manageable number. A simplified plot line and better acting on the part of Aniston and Pankow could have made this movie tremendously better.

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