[Screen It]


(1998) (Jennifer Aniston, Paul Rudd) (R)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Moderate None *Mild None None
Minor None None None Extreme
Smoking Tense Family
Topics To
Talk About
Moderate None None Mild Minor

Romantic Comedy: A pregnant woman falls for a gay man whom she hopes will turn straight and help her raise her child.
George Hanson (PAUL RUDD) is a preschool teacher and Nina Borowski (JENNIFER ANISTON) is a community center counselor who meet at a party hosted by Nina' pompous stepsister, Constance Miller (ALLISON JANEY) and her literary agent husband, Sidney (ALAN ALDA). After talking with George's boyfriend, Dr. Robert Joley (TIMOTHY DALY), Nina drops the bombshell that he's planning to break up with George.

Needing a place to live, George agrees to move into Nina's spare bedroom, a fact that her lawyer boyfriend, Vince McBride (JOHN PANKOW), can't stand because he wants to move in with her. Soon, Nina and George become best friends, and both agree to let the other lead their own personal lives. When Nina announces she's pregnant by Vince, however, she tells George that she wants him to help raise the child instead of Vince whom she can no longer stand. Although reluctant at first, George agrees after sensing that this might be his only chance at fatherhood. Eventually, the two begin to become attracted to each other.

Yet, when George gets a call from Joley, his attraction toward men is rekindled, and that's further strengthened after he meets Paul James (AMO GULINELLO), a young theater student who lives with an older theater critic, Rodney Fraser (NIGEL HAWTHORNE). Soon George and Paul become an item, much to Nina and Rodney's collective dismay. As Nina's pregnancy continues, she must decide between raising the child alone, with Vince, or to continue pursuing George who may or may not be there for her.

If they're fans of Aniston (from TV's "Friends"), anyone else in the cast, or of romantic comedies, they just might.
For strong language and some sexuality.
  • JENNIFER ANISTON plays a community center counselor who gets pregnant from her lawyer boyfriend. Since she doesn't like him anymore, she desperately wants her gay male roommate to be the child's father and to fall for her like she has for him. Along the way she curses some, including using the "f" word sexually.
  • PAUL RUDD plays a gay preschool teacher who agrees to help Nina with raising her child, but that notion is threatened when his attraction toward men is rekindled and he begins an affair with an actor. In one brief scene, he's offered a marijuana joint, and while he reaches out for it, we never see him smoke it.
  • JOHN PANKOW plays Nina's lawyer boyfriend who gets her pregnant. Although he wants to get married and be the father, his arrogant and overbearing attitude and behavior eventually turns her off from him.
  • TIMOTHY DALY and AMO GULINELLO play George's past and current boyfriends, while NIGEL HAWTHORNE plays an older gay man who's jilted by his boyfriend's affair with George.


    OUR TAKE: 5 out of 10
    You've got to give credit to the cast from the immensely popular TV show, "Friends." They're an extremely tenacious bunch, and much like the proverbial weeble, they wobble a lot in their attempts to move to the big screen, but while they stumble quite often, they never completely fall down. Although most of their collective efforts have been failures, they keep giving it that old college try and a few of them have landed in recent hits.

    While Jennifer Aniston's efforts haven't landed her in that group yet, she seems the most movie- worthy of the bunch. With her natural beauty and good-natured aura, she appears destined to become a leading lady, especially in romantic comedies that would seem to be her forte. Unfortunately, her latest release, "The Object Of My Affection," isn't going to be the vehicle to propel her to movie stardom.

    The film actually isn't that bad, it's just that it's rather bland, especially for a self-proclaimed romantic comedy. Romantic drama would probably be a better description, for while there are a few humorous moments, the main plot that's driven by the lead actors generates few laughs and isn't inherently funny in its structure. What's there competently works, but offers few surprises and just barely manages to survive being too predictable.

    Unless you've never seen this sort of movie before, there's no way that you won't know that Nina will start to fall for George, her gay roommate, and that the feeling will eventually become mutual. Yet right after that happens, something will occur that will split them apart and the rest of the movie will focus on their disparate lives until they finally come back together. While this story does offer a slightly different conclusion than what's normally expected, it's no big surprise that everyone ends up living happily ever after in a tacked on ending that's been added just to make the audience feel good.

    The film's spunk and originality comes from the supporting cast members and the characters they inhabit. Alan Alda and Allison Janey are funny in their roles as Nina's high lifestyle relatives and Janey gets the film's best lines early in the story, especially relating to her stereotypical view of gay people. Meanwhile, Alda proves once again that he's a delight in small supporting roles and one only wishes both he and Janey had more screen time as they're really the only comedic catalysts in the film.

    The best performance, however, comes from Nigel Hawthorne (an Oscar nominee for "The Madness of King George") as an older, gay theater critic. While he initially seems miscast with the other much younger performers, he brings a wise dignity to his role and seems the most realistically human character in the bunch. Like some of the other supporting characters, it's too bad he doesn't get more screen time as well.

    Instead, Jennifer Aniston ("She's The One," "Picture Perfect") and Paul Rudd ("Clueless," "The Locusts") get to divvy up most of that. While they're an attractive pairing, their characters have been written in such a fashion that both come off as uninteresting and you never really root for their romantic success. Nonetheless, Aniston delivers her best big screen performance to date as she brings a certain depth to her shallowly written character. Rudd is also good, but again suffers from a flat character that doesn't give him much room in which to maneuver.

    Beyond the overall bland quality of both the major characters and the film's main plot, a few other problems are also present. One never believes that Nina and Vince (played by "Mad About You" supporting actor John Pankow) had any chemistry between them and thus that part of the story never takes off. If their relationship had been written properly, it could have provided plenty of much needed humor, but as it stands there's no explanation about why either of the two liked, let alone loved the other.

    The whole bit about George being gay offers no real insights into that lifestyle and at times seems more of a plot device than a realistic element (for instance he returns to being gay as a story complication when needed). Additionally, so many sub-characters populate the plot that they diffuse the thrust of the main story, leaving it in even more of precariously weakened state than from its own construction.

    Director Nicholas Hytner ("The Crucible," "The Madness of King George") and screenwriter Wendy Wasserstein (making her big screen debut and working from Stephen McCauley's novel) have delivered a reasonably enjoyable film that's competent in most departments but outstanding in few. Surprisingly lacking in humor for a romantic comedy, the film works but offers nothing special. It's a typical spring release that will make few waves and then quickly head for the video shelves where it will be one of those films that you might remember hearing about and may just rent should all of the blockbusters already be taken. Featuring some fine, but small supporting performances and the best one yet from Aniston, this film may please romance fans as long as they're not expecting a big comedy. We give "The Object Of My Affection" a 5 out of 10.

    Here's a quick look at the film's content. Profanity is extreme with more than 20 "f" words and an assortment of others. The film presents one brief passionate encounter, but it's interrupted before anything too steamy occurs. Several other encounters -- both of the hetero and homosexual varieties -- however, are suggested, although nothing is seen. Some viewers -- if bothered by homosexual activity -- may not like that many gay men populate the story (with a kiss or two and some hugging). Beyond that and a brief instance where some characters smoke pot, most of the other categories are rather void of any major objectionable material. Even so, you may want to look through the scene listings to determine if this film is appropriate for you or anyone in your home.

  • People drink wine and cocktails at a party at Constance and Sidney's home. Later, they all have wine with dinner. After dinner, several people drink brandy.
  • Nina and George have wine with dinner.
  • George and his male, blind date drink beer in a bar.
  • Rodney and Paul drink wine.
  • Paul smokes a joint, Rodney giggles like he's also been smoking pot, and Paul then hands the joint to George who takes it (but the scene cuts away before we see him smoke it).
  • Rodney, George and others have drinks at a reception.
  • Nina, George, Paul and Sidney have wine with Thanksgiving dinner.
  • People drink champagne at a wedding reception.
  • None.
  • Some viewers may not like the film's portrayal of gay people.
  • Joley tells Nina that he's going to dump George (his boyfriend) before telling him.
  • Vince speaks his mind without hesitation and essentially tells George that he's got a bad job and is underpaid. Later, although seemingly with good intentions, his overbearing participation in Nina's pregnancy eventually drives her crazy.
  • A man runs up to Nina on the street and steals her purse.
  • Nina has some of both attitudes as she gets mad at George for being with Paul after she earlier told him not to change his lifestyle for her.
  • Some may see George as having both for somewhat leading Nina on and then being with Paul, who has both for doing the same to Rodney.
  • None.
  • None.
  • Phrases: "Screw up," "Screwed" (nonsexual), "Shut up," "No sh*t, Sherlock," "Homo boys," "Idiot," "Geez," "Pisses me off," and "Jerks."
  • None.
  • None.
  • None.
  • As many as 23 "f" words (three were questionable, but 7 are used sexually), 9 "s" words, 2 slang terms for male genitals (the "d" and "p" words), 6 hells, 1 S.O.B., and 7 uses of "Oh God," 6 of "G-damn," 3 each of "Jesus Christ" and "Oh my God," 2 each of "My God," "Jesus," and "God" and 1 use of "Christ Almighty" as exclamations.
  • Nina talks with several teenagers in a counseling session where a young woman talks about her boyfriend wanting to have sex with her ("He wants to 'f' me," she says. Nina responds, "Do you want to 'f' him?" The girl later says "he just wants to get into my pants"). Nina then gives advice to her by saying, "If I have sex with a guy, I want him to be my friend." She then throws this girl a box of condoms and tells her to lead her own life and not to be ruled by her boyfriend.
  • Later that girl tells the group that they "did it" (had sex) and Nina asks her if it "was good." The girl replies that it was just okay and Nina then chimes in "I like sex. I like boys a lot. But I'm not going to waste my time on some guy who doesn't see things the way I do."
  • We see Nina and Vince in bed together (he's asleep), and while we never see any activity, she later learns that she's pregnant.
  • Nina asks George who the first person was that he slept with. He replies that it was his girlfriend in high school on prom night.
  • George tells his brother, "You can get close to a woman without sleeping with her." His brother replies, "Really? That's news to me."
  • Nina and George sensuously kiss and she then unbuttons his shirt and kisses down his chest. She then starts to undo his belt and unzip his pants when the phone rings and interrupts them.
  • We see George and Paul in bed presumably after having had sex, and later see them briefly kiss.
  • None.
  • None.
  • Homosexuality and people who are gay.
  • Single mothers.
  • Whether love and longstanding relationships need sex or can be based more on friendship.
  • Vince pushes George backwards during an argument.
  • The director of a play punches Rodney after hearing the critic's opinion of his work.

  • Reviewed April 13, 1998

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