Magnolia Pictures // 2010 // 94 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Clark Douglas // December 16th, 2010
A comedy that hits you right where it counts.
"I think she looks beautiful. It's my role as the father of this child to say that all the time."
Barry Munday (Patrick Wilson, Watchmen) is a lazy, womanizing individual who follows his lustful instincts wherever they may lead him. Undeterred by the fact that he has a steady girlfriend (Missi Pyle, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), Barry hits on one woman after another, engaging in an endless series of sordid one-night stands. One day, he makes the mistake of going to a movie with a teenage girl (Mae Whitman, Parenthood). He is discovered by the girl's father inside the movie theatre, who proceeds to smash Barry's crotch with a trumpet. No, really. Hours later, Barry wakes up in the hospital and is informed that his testicles have been surgically removed. Naturally, Barry is quite depressed by this turn of events.
A few days later, Barry receives a paternal suit in the mail. It seems he has impregnated a woman named Ginger Farley (Judy Greer, 13 Going on 30). The old Barry would have been alarmed by this news, but the emasculated Barry finds some measure of consolation -- perhaps this means that the Munday lineage will live on. The only problem is, Barry has absolutely no memory of ever encountering (much less, um, encountering) Ginger Farley. He arranges a meeting with Ginger, and finds her to be a thoroughly rude, unpleasant, unattractive young woman. The two instinctively loathe each other, but agree to become friends for the sake of their unborn child. As the pregnancy progresses, Barry and Ginger begin to work on their respective flaws and make a genuine attempt at becoming decent human beings.
Now this is the kind of romantic comedy we need to be seeing more often. See, I'm writing this review shortly after checking out the Drew Barrymore/Justin Long rom-com Going the Distance. While that film is an inoffensive little romp, I couldn't help but grow tired of seeing the same old genre routines recycled once again. Barry Munday may be predictable at times, but at least it takes a less worn-out path than most films of this type, offers very distinctive characters and demonstrates an entertainingly offbeat sense of humor. Unfortunately, Barry Munday isn't the sort of generic romantic comedy that audiences latch onto, so the film has been quietly shipped to home video only two months after its very brief limited theatrical run.
Admittedly, a romantic comedy featuring two thoroughly unlikable protagonists is a tough sell. Sure, Barry and Ginger begin to become rather likable as the film proceeds, but he starts off as a piggish slob and she starts off as the world's most negative human being. What sells us in the interim time are the performances and the quality of the writing.
Patrick Wilson was more or less wasted in his other 2010 films (The A-Team, The Switch, Morning Glory), but Barry Munday gives the actor a delicious comedic role that the actor sinks his teeth into with relish. Who knew Wilson had such splendid comic instincts? He's been excellent in serious roles in films like Watchmen, Hard Candy and Little Children, but he's equally good as the lusty title character in this film. Regardless of how immoral or noble the character's actions may be, Wilson plays Barry as a character whose cluelessness is only matched by his earnestness. When Barry looks at Ginger's bulging belly and gravely declares, "May I touch the baby?" the result is both faintly touching and hilarious. Wilson offers some fun yet subtle physical comedy, too, giving the character a series of awkwardly distinctive mannerisms (including a walk which suggests Barry is eternally constipated).
Judy Greer has been doing fine supporting work in many films and television shows during the last decade or so, but she makes the most of what may be her most substantial role to date in this film. Her growling, aggressive turn as Ginger provides a great deal of entertainment, though it takes us a while longer to take the character seriously due to the rather broad nature of her performance. Greer sportingly downplays her natural good looks for the role, wearing cartoonishly oversized glasses, a less-than-remarkable hairdo and no makeup. The many members of the supporting cast (which includes Billy Dee Williams, Malcolm McDowell, Cybill Shepherd, Chloe Sevigny, Colin Hanks, Jean Smart, Christopher McDonald, Kyle Gass and other recognizable faces) offer a series of entertaining frowns upon seeing her for the first time.
The film's transition from savagely silly to sincerely sweet is slightly awkward, but the actors ultimately pull it off. Best of all, even when the film heads into the predictably warm n' fuzzy third act it retains its comic edge -- there really are laughs from start to finish. The film tosses in a variety of little subplots to varying degrees of success (more on those in a moment), but the core scenes between Wilson and Greer are endlessly delightful. His attempts to restrain his terrible instincts play very amusingly off her half-hearted attempts at keeping her fury in check; their chemistry/anti-chemistry really sparkles.
The film arrives on Blu-ray sporting a respectable 1080p/1.78:1 transfer. While there's nothing here that's going to really showcase your HDTV, the level of detail is solid, depth is respectable and flesh tones are warm and accurate. There's a small measure of grain present throughout. Audio is similarly ordinary, with only a couple of club scenes giving your speaker system a real workout. Otherwise, this is a quiet, pleasant dialogue-driven track that gets the job done without making much fuss. Supplements include a commentary with director Chris D'Arienzo, Wilson and Greer, a "HDNet: A Look at Barry Monday" (4 minutes) throwaway featurette, a cutesy "Your Penis and You" (3 minutes) infomercial, a handful of deleted scenes, a gag reel and some outtakes. The disc is also equipped with BD-Live.
I mentioned earlier that the subplots littered throughout the film are of varying quality. Two in particular stand out as being rather misguided. The first involves Chloe Sevigny as Ginger's sister Jennifer. She seems to have an attraction to Barry, and flirts with him throughout the film. This storyline seems to build up and then simply fizzle out, as does the revelation that Sevigny dances at a strip club in her spare time. The character seems unnecessary, I'm afraid. Second, the sequence in which a "mutilated genetalia" support group turns up at Barry's house feels out of place; it comes at the wrong time in the movie and disrupts the flow of things. Finally, too many of the supporting players (particularly McDowell and Shepherd as Ginger's parents) feel underdeveloped.
Barry Munday is a fun little movie with terrific comedic turns from its two leads. When you're in the mood for an entertaining romantic comedy that will prove equally enjoyable for both sexes, shove My Best Friend's Girl and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days to the side and check out this one instead.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Magnolia Pictures
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Deleted Scenes
* Gag Reel