The Third Wheel

Director: Jordan Brady

Dismissed in Peter Biskind’s book Down and Dirty Pictures—his opus about independent film, Sundance and Miramax-- as one of the garbage films done as a favor for friends and protégés of executive producers Matt Damon and Ben Affleck (after the success of Good Will Hunting made them Weinstein’s favorite stars), The Third Wheel actually turns out to be a pretty entertaining and refreshingly upbeat romantic comedy, devoid of the excessive toilet humor and over-the-top gross out jokes that seem to populate most of the offerings at the Cineplex such as Knocked Up or Along Came Polly. Although destined to collect dust on the shelves of neighborhood video stores that will no doubt carry the film due to the star power of leads Luke Wilson, Denise Richards, and Ben Affleck, it’s a cute movie that would make enjoyable Saturday night date fare for a nice evening in. Playing essentially a man similar to himself, Luke Wilson capitalizes on his nice guy image as average joe Stanley who, after a year of unrequited romantic love from afar finally works up the nerve to ask out his coworker Diana (Denise Richards), who fresh from breaking up with her latest boyfriend and charmed by his rehearsed joke (written on an index card) and the promise of a casual evening, impulsively accepts his date. Realizing he has one night to create the perfect evening, Stanley maps out the ideal activities of drinks, theatre and dinner, along with the help and good wishes of the rest of his office who are making side bets on the progress of the dates, all gathered at one apartment (getting updates via phone from coworker Ben Affleck and others), keeping track of Stanley and Diana’s every move as if they were horses at a track. Of course, the entire office serves as the “third wheel” but audiences are introduced to the real title character when Stanley accidentally crashes into a homeless man named Phil who, refusing to take a hint, tags along with the couple the entire evening as Stanley’s prefect plan gets jumbled up in the process. Although ultimately predictable, there are still some genuinely funny moments and the entire cast (including the film’s writer Jay Lacopo as Phil) along with Melissa McCarthy (Sookie on Gilmore Girls) and even a cameo by Matt Damon as Richards’s evil ex all make it watchable fun and we expect nothing more than an aimless diversion.