Barrelhouse Salutes a Great Comedic Turn in an Otherwise Pointless Movie

Sure, David Koechner's Buck, in 2003's otherwise completely forgettable A Guy Thing, is basically the same character he'd later take to greater heights of ridiculous inappropriateness in Anchorman and The Office. But that doesn't make it any less funny. If anything, its funniness is amplified by standing in stark relief to a movie that is otherwise just an assemblage of various romantic-comedy cliches: the male protagonist (Jason Lee) in an unsatisfying relationship with a beautiful but boring woman (Selma Blair, who has somehow gotten stuck in a career playing such beautiful but boring women), a free spirit (Julia Stiles) who teaches the male protagonist that love can be So Much More, if he'll only get over his fears, etc. etc. etc.

When Koechner's Buck enters the scene as Jason Lee's stepdad, his wife is telling him to be on his best behavior while meeting the future in-laws, who of course are Stuffy and Intimidating.

"I'm a pants salesman!" he yells. "I think I know how to talk to people. I sell pants!"

A few moments later, sitting in the living room and struggling through small talk, the Stuffy Father says "So, Buck, are you a duffer?" Koechner puts down the prawn he's been sniffing at suspiciously, then rears up in that same chest-puffing way of The Office's Todd Packer. "Well, if you mean do I like playing with my balls, the answer's yes!" Then he laughs and slaps at his leg while everyone else looks on in horror.

Sadly, there's just not enough Buck in the movie. When he shows up again, at the condo he shares with Jason Lee's mother, he again steals the scene, this time with his over-the-top fandom of John Wayne. "When I gave up the bachelor pad, I told Dorothy I'll move in with you on one condition. It's gotta reflect my style!" He points to an oversized portrait of Wayne and says "The Duke! Signed by the artist!"

I never saw Koechner's The Naked Trucker and T-Bone Show, which looked kinda like a MadTV sketch that went on way too long. Maybe he's at his best in these smaller, supporting roles, where he can be as over-the-top as he wants, like John Witherspoon in ... well, pretty much every movie he's ever been in.

Side note: I noticed while doing the IMDB links for this post that Koechner was in an episode of Hannah Montana playing a character named "Uncle Earl." Somehow I can't imagine Koechner's uncle being acceptable for Disney television. Are there reams of deleted scenes somewhere in which Uncle Earl gets a little too handsy?

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