Trust the Man (2005) / Comedy-Romance

MPAA Rated: R for language and sexual content
Running Time: 103 min.

Cast: David Duchovny, Julianne Moore, Billy Crudup, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Eva Mendes, James LeGros, Glenn Fitzgerald, Justin Bartha, Dagmara Dominczyk, Garry Shandling
Director: Bart Freundlich
Screenplay: Bart Freundlich
Review published September 6, 2005

David Duchovny (Zoolander, Evolution) and Julianne Moore (The Forgotten, Laws of Attraction) star as Tom and Rebecca, a married couple suffering from frustration involved with Tom wanting much more sex than Rebecca is willing to indulge in.  They are close with another couple with problems of their own: Tom's brother, Tobey (Crudup, Stage Beauty) and his longtime girlfriend, Elaine (Gyllenhaal, Criminal), who find themselves at an impasse when she begins to get restless to marry and have children.  Things finally come to a head in both relationships when Tom enters into an affair with a divorcee named Pamela (Dominczyk, The Count of Monte Cristo), while Elaine's biological clock compels her to try to seek someone else to fulfill her life needs.  They soon find that they are much more miserable without their partners than with them, but it may be too late to fix what's been broken.

Full of smart and engaging actors, Trust the Man benefits from good performances and a few witty insights, but fails to gel into anything of great substance.  For a film with such talent, Freundlich's (World Traveler, The Myth of Fingerprints) comedy often shoots low, featuring an inordinate share of fart jokes, crass sexual gags, and one-dimensional supporting characters (A Sprockets-like German suitor, an eccentric musician, a sex-starved former flame, and a support group full of perverts, etc.) that play so much for laughs, they undermine whatever profound truths about relationships one might glean during the more serious moments. 

Basically, it's a film not daring enough to go for subtle wit, and given the more mature ensemble than most romantic comedies contain, catering to the much younger crowd that laughs at embarrassing situations and kooky characterizations proves to be the albatross that hinders kicking the film up to the next level.  The climax of the film in particular feels forced, trying so hard to be the next ribald comedy to have its characters jump through increasingly humiliating hoops in order to deliver great laughs.  Without the proper set-up among the characters to warrant such displays of outlandish behavior, it feels more like a Hail Mary pass than a slam dunk.  Woody Allen, or even Richard Curtis, this ain't.

For lovers of all romantic comedies, especially for fans of the stars, perhaps Trust the Man will deliver just enough laughs and nice touches to merit a viewing when you're in the mood for an adult sex comedy.  However, given the talented cast and missed opportunities for something pithier, it's a bit of a disappointment that Freundlich is so inconsistent in setting up the proper tone for this mix of broad, lewd comedy and sophisticated relationship drama.  Like the relationships within the movie, things look fine from outside appearances, but upon closer examination, it's apparent that the two halves have a difficult time forming a blissful union.

Qwipster's rating:

2007 Vince Leo