This is the lede of the Wall Street Journal article about My Man Is A Loser: “A few years ago, Eric Bamberger, a New York-based digital marketing and advertising executive with no experience as a Hollywood producer, had an idea for a movie about the comically fraught relationships between husbands and wives.” As if that weren’t sufficiently troubling, the story goes on to relate how Bamberger hired first-time writer-director Mike Young for the project on the recommendation of former Entourage showrunner Doug Ellin. The coup de grace, however, is when Bamberger describes the process by which Young transformed his notes into a screenplay: “‘Literally 90 days go by,’ recalled Mr. Bamberger, ‘and I get this PDF. I’ve never read a movie script before, but I think it’s kind of funny. But then, it was, Allright, what do we do now?’” My Man Is A Loser may not review itself, but its producer is more than happy to review it for you.
My Man Is A Loser is almost exactly the film the above suggests—often less, never more. Ageless and enduringly charismatic time lord John Stamos plays Mike, the smooth and single owner of a Manhattan bar. The narrator of this very special journey, Mike is introduced watching his latest conquest dismount his crotch, whip out an acoustic guitar, and begin singing a folksy song about the upside about being drugged and date-raped. This is intercut with the opening credits; only 94 minutes to go.
Marty and Paul (Michael Rapaport and Bryan Callen) play Mike’s married friends, two clueless schmucks who are struggling to relate to their shrewish but innocent wives (Heidi Armbruster and Kathy Searle). Their marriages are strained after the boys accidentally send their wives a photo of them partying with Mike at a strip club (“The second someone puts on a wedding ring it cuts off all circulation to the brain”), at which point their perpetually single best bud is conscripted to put them through relationship bootcamp and teach them how to better appreciate the women in their lives. Meanwhile, Mike’s bachelor lifestyle gets challenged by an increasingly enflamed crush on one of his employees, a woman (who’s just like one of the guys!) named Clarissa (Tika Sumpter).
Despite what might be implied by the film’s title, My Man Is A Loser almost never adopts the perspective of its female characters. Make no mistake, this is simply the latest incarnation of the regressive “men are like this, women are like this, and marriage is a hell on earth that’s slightly preferable to a lifetime alone” mentality that has defined the sitcom era and made sweatpants a synonym for sexlessness. Following in the grand tradition of He’s Just Not That Into You and the cultural swill that formed in its wake, My Man Is A Loser obeys a simple, invariably noxious formula: Have the protagonist codify the behavior that forms the rickety foundation of his love life, only to watch as he gradually learn that the rules he set for himself are—shock—impeding his happiness. Even the supporting characters compulsively give names to their moves, with one of the interchangeable wives educating the other about “AmEx Sex”—“When the AmEx bill comes, I hide it, blow him so hard that his eyes roll into the back of his head, and the next day he isn’t even mad about the charges”—an important skill in any wife’s arsenal because women be shopping.
The characters communicate almost exclusively in bad jokes and worse aphorisms, and the film occasionally relies on gross-out humor whenever it loses interest in its own creations. (How to enliven the boring conversation that Paul is having with his elderly lawyer? A shock-cut to the lawyer’s shriveled prosthetic penis, which is poking through his unzipped pants.)
Narratively scattered and about as visually interesting as the average 40-year-old man, My Man Is A Loser takes the most meandering conceivable path to arrive at the groundbreaking epiphany that “Men are stupid, women are crazy.” The film never offers even the gentlest pushback to the idea that it’s a business deal masquerading as a movie. Young and Bamberger’s insultingly trite bro comedy is too content with the stink of its own reprocessed garbage to serve as anything more than a reminder that some actors should be in better films, and some producers shouldn’t be involved in any of them.