Buying the Cow (2002) Movie Review

“Buying the Cow” is a Romantic Comedy made for guys, but unfortunately guys don’t go to movie theaters to see Romantic Comedies, so it’s no surprise that Walt Becker’s movie has had no theatrical release, and probably never will. Co-written by Becker with Peter Nelson, “Cow” tells the story of David (Jerry O’Connell), a young man who doesn’t actually suffer from a phobia to commitment as everyone thinks; it’s just that he believes there’s a soulmate out there for him, and his current girlfriend of 5 years, Sarah (Bridgette Wilson), is not it.

So while Sarah is away in New York on business, David goes in search of that elusive soulmate. David has help, if you can call it that, from his two friends, the vain Mike (Ryan Reynolds) and Jonesy (Bill Bellamy). Jonesy really doesn’t have much of a personality, since all of that goes to Mike, who soon starts to wonder if the reason he’s not in a serious relationship yet might be because he’s gay. Scarlett Chorvat co-stars as the woman who may be David’s soulmate, if he can just manage to locate her, that is.

Despite being intended for the guys, “Buying the Cow” really takes all of its cues from woman-minded Romantic Comedies like “Serendipity” and “The Sweetest Thing”. Which is to say the only question involve in “Cow” isn’t if David will find his mystical soulmate, but how much of a mess he’ll get into on his way to that inevitable conclusion. The fact is, the screenplay and direction by Walt Becker (“Van Wilder”) is done in such a way that it’s not very hard to figure out who David’s intended love is — is it really Sarah after all, or is it the elusive woman played by Scarlett Chorvat? The answer is obvious if you’ve seen any number of these movies.

Because Romantic Comedies require their stars to be straight men to the comedic sidekicks, David and Sarah are the lamest characters of the bunch. Ryan Reynolds (“Van Wilder”) provides the bulk of the laugh, even though his second half transformation into a player who suddenly thinks he might be gay gets a little bit awkward. Without trying to, “Cow” probably insults the gay community on more than one occasion, including a scene where Reynolds’ Mike vomits uncontrollably after learning that he might have slept with a man. Gee, that’s not very sensitive, guys.

On the romantic side, “Cow” uses the same themes of serendipity and fate as other Romantic Comedies that have come before it. I won’t spoil all the epiphanies realized by the different characters, since some of you may want to watch this movie and pretend not to know where it’s all going. Suffice it to say, “Cow” is quite funny and although not nearly as prone to romanticism as a woman-minded Romantic Comedy, there are plenty of scenes with guys sitting and talking about fate and such stuff. It’s all very mushy, but at least all the actors pull it off with flair.

Jerry O’Connell (“Mission to Mars”) has never looked like a leading man to me, and this remains unchanged. O’Connell sports one of the worst haircuts in celluloid history, which is even funnier when contrasted with a flashback scene where O’Connell’s character has a mullet (probably the worst haircut for men in the history of man). The scene is supposed to be funny because of the presence of the mullet, but how do you explain that the older David still has a pretty awful haircut? I guess you can’t. Or can you?

I’m not really sure who cast “Cow”, but he/she/they deserves a raise. Almost every woman in this movie is gorgeous. Bridgette Wilson leads the pretty parade that includes Alyssa Milano as a stripper, Erinn Bartlett as the fianc’e of one of David’s friends, and the aforementioned Scarlett Chorvat. Among David’s male friends there’s Bellamy and Ron Livingston (“Office Space”), playing the friend whose upcoming nuptials makes his other friends start questioning their own future with women.

“Buying the Cow” won’t provide you with any epiphanies about life and love and women that you can use in real-life. It’s sometimes funny, has an attractive cast, and it offers up a feel-good ending only possible in Romantic Comedies. But then again, isn’t that why you watch Romantic Comedies in the first place?

Walt Becker (director) / Walt Becker, Peter Nelson (screenplay)
CAST: Jerry O’Connell …. David Collins
Bridgette Wilson …. Sarah
Ryan Reynolds …. Mike Hanson
Bill Bellamy …. Jonesy
Alyssa Milano …. Amy
Annabeth Gish …. Nicole
Scarlett Chorvat …. Katie Madison

Buy Buying the Cow on DVD