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The Object of My Affection

Rated R, 112 min. Directed by Nicholas Hytner. Starring Jennifer Aniston, Paul Rudd, John Pankow, Alan Alda, Nigel Hawthorne, Tim Daly, Allison Janney, Steve Zahn.

REVIEWED By Steve Davis, Fri., April 24, 1998

The prevailing, cynical joke in some circles of single heterosexual women is that the only men worth marrying are already married or gay. The romantic comedy-lite The Object of My Affection comes close to perpetuating that myth in its depiction of the complicated relationship between a pregnant social worker, Nina (Aniston), and her gay roommate and best friend, George (Rudd). The problem is that Nina's feelings for George are more than platonic, a development in their domestic arrangement that George cannot confront directly. Of course, the notion of a thicker-than-blood affinity between two such people isn't out of the ordinary -- think as recently as Julia Roberts and Rupert Everett in My Best Friend's Wedding -- but when sex, commitment, and babies enter the picture, things get knotted. Wendy Wasserstein's screenplay for The Object of My Affection, which is based on Stephen McCauley's novel, is situationally contrived; from Nina and George's first meeting, to the way they come to live together, to the way they decide to raise Nina's child, the storyline lacks credibility. Why don't these two reasonably intelligent people realize what they're getting themselves into before it almost destroys their friendship? (Of course, it's always easy to be objective about others' relationships, isn't it?) Just when the film starts to demonstrate some wisdom about the age-old dichotomy of s/he who loves and s/he who is loved, it resorts to clichéd melodramatics as the brewing conflict between Nina and George finally comes to a head. As likable as Aniston and Rudd are, their respective movie presences have not yet developed to the degree that they can overcome the shortcomings of The Object of My Affection. So, for the most part, the movie just plods along, occasionally funny and usually so-so. To its credit, however, it doesn't perpetuate another prevailing, cynical joke in some circles of single heterosexual women: The love of a good woman is all a gay man needs to “straight”en him out.
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