Is Meet Bill the worst movie ever? Probably not, but it's certainly incoherent enough to give Gigli a run for its money. It tries hard to mimic the arch tone of the best suburban tragicomedies (American Beauty et al.), but a surfeit of stock characters, double-wide plot holes, and heavy-handed symbolism ruins the effect. Aaron Eckhart plays Bill, a mild-mannered mensch whose impossibly shrewish wife (Elizabeth Banks) is cheating on him, unrepentantly. When a hidden camera catches wife and lover in flagrante delicto, she kicks poor Bill out of the house, whereupon he enlists the aid of a lingerie saleswoman (Jessica Alba) and a precocious high-schooler (Logan Lerman) in an effort to win her back. Complicating matters is the fact that Bill works at his father-in-law's bank, even though he's secretly planning to open a doughnut franchise (which he even more secretly doesn't want). First-time directors Bernie Goldmann and Melisa Wallack have no control over their material, not to mention their actors: Both Banks and Alba give off all the flat, cookie-cutter-sexy charisma of Victoria's Secret print-ad models, while the usually charming Eckhart is a mess. Who encouraged him to unleash an endless parade of bizarre mannerisms, slumping his shoulders and twitching his face maniacally? It's as if the weight of carrying this leaden film induced Tourette's.
Alba sells Bill lingerie.
Opens at Varsity, Fri., May 23. Rated R. 97 minutes.