The Stroller Strategy: Film Review

Lukewarm rom-com has dubious ideas about parenthood.

Raphael Personnaz plays a man using a baby as a prop to woo an old girlfriend.

A man tries to win back his ex-girlfriend by pretending to have fathered a child in Clement Michel's The Stroller Strategy, a comedy about faking emotional maturity until you achieve it. The conceit is implausible even by rom-com standards and, moreover, invites unwelcome observations about the tendency to treat children like lifestyle accessories. Few viewers inclined toward that observation will be likely to see this lightweight Gallic romance; of those who do find it, a modest number will be pleased by its good-looking cast and unchallenging humor.

Raphael Personnaz plays Thomas, an illustrator who was dumped a year ago by Marie (Charlotte Lebon) because their relationship was "not going anywhere." When he's stuck caring for the newborn of a neighbor who's fallen into a coma, Thomas succumbs to the harebrained logic of buddy Paul (Jerome Commandeur): "She'd never have left if you looked like a dad."

Stalking Marie to her new workplace, Bouncy Babies, where mothers take classes in infant massage and prenatal singing, Thomas pretends to have wound up with the kid the old-fashioned way. But he has a long way to go in wooing Marie, who offhandedly reveals how fulfilling sex is with her new boyfriend; and then there's that small mountain of lies to deal with ...

First-timer Michel rounds up the ingredients common to every film pairing a bachelor with an infant -- frantic man tries to soothe mysteriously shrieking baby; obstinate man acts as if ignoring the soiled diaper will make it change itself. But he doesn't add much more to the mix, and he does little to develop whatever chemistry might still linger between his two protagonists after a year apart. The warm fuzzies generated by Thomas' predictable discovery -- wait, he actually loves this little human -- are offset by the sight of him biking recklessly through city streets, dodging cars with one hand as the baby's strapped to his chest. Then again, what kind of lover would he be if he valued anything more than racing to Marie before she got away for the second time?

Production Company: StudioCanal

Cast: Raphael Personnaz, Charlotte Lebon, Jerome Commandeur, Camelia Jordana, Julie Ferrier, Francois Berleand

Director: Clement Michel

Screenwriter: Clement Michel, Louis-Paul Desanges

Producers: Alain Benguigui, Thomas Verhaeghe

Director of photography: Steeven Petitteville

Production designer: Maamar Ech-Cheikh

Music: Sylvain Ohrel

Costume designer: Alexia Crisp-Jones

Editor: Julie Dupre

No rating, 86 minutes