Barry Munday -- Film Review



AUSTIN -- Like a frumpy version of "Knocked Up" playing out in a sadder, stranger world, "Barry Munday" offers two icky humans and hopes that, by the tale's end, we'll be happy they're procreating. It comes closer to achieving that than we might expect, but the film's focus on some pretty unappealing quirks limits its commercial appeal.

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In another successful against-type performance, Patrick Wilson is convincing as Barry, a would-be Don Juan whose stalking grounds (TGI Friday's and tiki bars) are perfectly suited for his soulless come-ons. After one seduction goes violently awry, leaving Barry without his testicles, Munday begins to sense his life may not be as full as it should be.

Stunned when a lawyer's letter claims he has impregnated a woman he doesn't remember meeting, Barry is a good sport when she turns out to be cartoonishly unattractive and foul-tempered: Ginger Farley (Judy Greer, laying it on a bit thick) doesn't seem interested in wringing child-support from him, and appears to have made contact solely to insult him for having drunkenly seduced her.

If Ginger's motivations are poorly established, the script makes more sense of Barry's decision to insist on being involved with the pregnancy: Knowing he'll never have the opportunity to be a father again, he has reconsidered his playboy ideal. But the low-key way this sentiment is conveyed sits uncomfortably with the movie's overall tone, with Frank Helmer's costumes and Paul Oberman's production design emphasizing the garish and unfashionable, and plentiful other touches -- like Ginger's parents munching snacks as they observe their daughter's labor pains -- seem intended to keep us from taking any of this seriously.

After making Broadway safe for hair metal in "Rock of Ages," director Chris D'Arienzo probably feels he owns the self-consciously schlocky songs that pepper the soundtrack, but those don't help the picture's efforts to find the right tone -- and groups like Styx and Whitesnake have been used ironically in so many other films now that they're as stale as Barry's friend's obsession with air-guitar.

Venue: South By Southwest Festival
Production company: Stick N Stone Productions, Corner Store Entertainment
Cast: Patrick Wilson, Judy Greer, Chloe Sevigny, Jean Smart, Malcolm McDowell, Cybill Shepherd, Billy Dee Williams
Director: Chris D'Arienzo
Screenwriter: Chris D'Arienzo, novel by Frank Turner Hollon
Executive producers: Carl Levin, Robert Ortiz, Scott Prisand, Marcos Siega
Producers: Stone Douglass, Matt Weaver
Director of photography: Morgan Susser
Production designer: Paul Oberman
Music: Janet Billig Rich
Costume designer: Frank Helmer
Editor: Joan Sobel
Sales Agent: William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, Traction Media
No MPAA rating, 94 minutes