The Object of My Affection (1998)

Genres - Comedy Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Gay & Lesbian Films, Romantic Comedy, Urban Comedy  |   Release Date - Apr 17, 1998 (USA)  |   Run Time - 112 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Derek Armstrong

Radically switching genres from his critical successes The Madness of King George (1994) and The Crucible (1996), Nicholas Hytner proves that his talents for classical subject matter don't translate to modern romantic comedy with the yammering The Object of My Affection. Although it was one of Jennifer Aniston's more popular of a forgettable bunch of post-Friends-hype star vehicles, the film is so packed with unlikable -- and unforgivably talkative -- New York yuppies that its nearly two hours are often difficult to sit through. The central issue of the connection between two sensitive souls, despite their sexual incompatibility, is well worth examining. But there are so many melodramatic twists and turns along the way, capped by an overly neat resolution, that the project feels manipulative and misguided. Especially difficult to understand is why Aniston's character even went on a single date with John Pankow's boorish and defensive bigot, so at odds are their value systems, and so over-the-top is his portrayal of roguish callousness. As two of the only sympathetic characters, Aniston and Paul Rudd are dewy and soft, trying so hard to be agreeable that you eventually want to slap them as well. The only nuanced character is the one played by frequent Hytner collaborator Nigel Hawthorne, as an elder intellectual being sadly left behind by the young boy toys he can't help falling for. Both Hytner and screenwriter Wendy Wasserstein have been in far better form than this.