Buena Vista // 2004 // 86 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Bill Gibron // July 9th, 2004
The cinematic equivalent of diaper rash and cradle cap.
Lonnie, Dominic, and G are three lifelong friends who do everything together. They live together. They party together. They knock up their less-than-loving lady friends together (well, not actually together together -- that would be another, far sexier movie). Anyway, when these three human hormone factories discover that the seed of their loins has finally taken root, the reactions are as mixed as the resulting offsprings' ethnicity. Lonnie, a megadupahyper wuss, is now even more financially indebted to his hood-rat woman Rolonda (and her strange, sex-change mother). Dominic can't get the mamacita of his child, a record company executive who works in the same office as he, to give up her female "friend" and show him the same sex-time of day. And the family of G's Asian babe thinks he's a total loser (and who said the people of the Pacific Rim were lousy judges of character?).
These dumb dudes actually do have career goals. Lonnie dreams of being an inventor. Dominic wants to move directly into the Italian family business: managing white rap acts. And G fancies himself a fatter, slower, less physically capable Mike Tyson. Unfortunately, the only sweet science he knows is the recipe for triple-fudge brownie pie. But with the responsibility of children, a choice must be made: follow your dreams, or settle down to do the Dad. With their elbows in diapers and their fingers in doo-doo, our pretending players are now full-fledged members of the My Baby's Daddy club.
There are several famous tests of endurance, events and entities that challenge and conquer human mettle. In the Olympics, we have both the marathon (an event later eclipsed by Sean John P. Diddy Puff Daddy Combs as the ultimate mogul media event) and the decathlon (which hasn't really mattered since those overdone Nike commercials pitted two unknown athletes against each other to see which shoe...I mean, man, would come out on top -- quick, a quarter for whomever can remember their full names). Bicycling has the Tour De France, a multi-mile, several-day hike through the French countryside that a certain Teutonic republic found far more easily accessible about 60 years ago. Free divers have the vastness of the ocean and the limits of their lungpower to determine their ability to suffer undersea. And deodorant experts at the laboratories of Proctor and Gamble have the daily delight of sniffing stinking armpits to determine if new Mitchum with added odor protectors and a fresh forest scent really wipes out the wetness while controlling the rise of bile. But it's hard to imagine a test of tolerance more mentally exhausting, physically impairing, and psychologically scarring than having to sit through My Baby's Daddy, an entire movie about men who knock up their women, and the children they must care for after the fact.
Now, if a blunt (no, not that kind of chronic) approach had been taken to the tale-telling, and a title like My Irritating Bastard was slapped on the resulting street drama, maybe something consumable would have resulted from the combination of playa and playpen. But no, comedy was the key to this creaky concept about pops unable to pamper their progeny. My Baby's Daddy is such a trial by quagmire that it's going to take a lot of Tylenol 3 to get through this labored farce.
Watching My Baby's Daddy is exactly like experiencing an 80-minute phantom pregnancy. You'll suffer from nausea, stomach pains, unnatural cravings, and the feeling you've just passed a 400-pound peach pit before it's all over. And that's not including the inevitable episiotomy scar. Nothing here works, absolutely nothing. Each male character is hampered by some manner of retardation (social, intellectual, physical) that renders him completely incapable of human action. They're like primordial ooze, poured into a Creeple People mold and accented with a single brain cell each, hoping that something semi-evolutionary is formed. But the resulting replicants are barely ambulatory. Eddie Griffin's Lonnie has so many underdeveloped personalities (nerd, wimp, loser, irritant) that he's like a Special Ed Sybil. Michael Imperioli's goombah goofiness makes you wish GoodFellas was a documentary (not even Spider could dance his way out of this one). And then there is the visual representation of ADD known as Anthony Anderson. A half-crazed kid with a cranium packed with pixie sticks is not as bouncing-off-the-walls erratic as this man-child Balboa butthead. One moment he loves his woman, the next he is obsessed with his own farts. Even with a face full of baby piss, he can't seem to keep his own pea brain on one clear concept. As interchangeable as the men are, the women are equally disposable (all except for Paula Jai Parker's Rolonda, who never made ghetto fabulous seem so stark raving psychotic). The fact that a physical coupling between any of these people results in an actual child and not some figment of sperm and egg ephemera proves there's some manner of God at work in the world -- or old Satan is sacking out in Hell.
Trying to figure out just what this film was attempting to accomplish will actually cause your brain to split along the choroid plexius and a substance resembling lamb base may burble out of your ear. There are so many cinematic missteps -- mistakes of tone and talent -- that you're not quite sure if anyone saw a script before shooting started. This Three G's and a Shorty slop can't even get its basic premise to sit up straight and eat right. Why would a movie that is hanging its humor on the backs of babies fail to give the infants adequate screen time? Are they afraid these drooling doody machines would upstage the regular actors? Or was there a concern that, via exploiting infants, the movie was somehow taking a reverse age-discrimination angle to its comedy? Whatever it is, the baby ballyhoo we're supposed to experience never happens. The only aspects of the children we witness are their bodily functions and some strange CGI stupidity.
Not that the rest of the movie's merriment functions any better. This is the kind of wit that thinks first grade joke names (the members of XiXi's Chinese family are called Cha Ching, Bling-Bling and Fung-Yo, respectively, and G calls his Chinese / African American child...get this...Bruce LeRoy -- ha!) are riotous rib-ticklers, and a couple of Hebrew hip-hop stars are the latest word in satiric irony (guess they never heard of the Rapping Rabbis, or the Two Live Jews). Actors like John Amos and Tom "Tiny" Lister are absolutely wasted in nothing more than space-holder cameos, chances for the screenplay to catch its breath between supposed sequences of slapstick silly. And you can tell this movie is a direct reflection of preview screening comment cards. Director Cheryl Dunye chops and hacks her movie into so many little bite-sized snigglets that it's like the load in a typical six-month-old's diapers -- rotten, repulsive, and unable to hold together. Similar to an infant's attention span, this movie is random, rattled, and ridiculous in its paltry parenting platforms.
All of which leads to the question, what in the wild world of wool caps has happened to Eddie Griffin? There was a time when this manic, mad-as-hell comic was channeling Richard Pryor, Lenny Bruce, and Dick Gregory to be an unhinged urban satirist. But somewhere along the unemployment line he sold out and turned into a dopey draftsman of derivative dick jokes. And now he's writing a family comedy? Featuring babies? Oh well, I guess when the rent is due and you need a new car, a paycheck is a paycheck -- no matter how half-assed the gig is.
One thing's for sure though, My Baby's Daddy is a double dumper of despair. It makes fatherhood seem like a curse (and one guesses it would be if it was as unplanned as the paternity here), motherhood an easily avoidable bump in life's social calendar, and childhood a never-ending series of chaffing challenges. No character has a real story arc -- everything here is a caricature of a cliché wrapped in a recognizable archetype. When an ex-con named No Good (played with plucky aplomb by the dependable Method Man) is the "butt" of a joke about salad tossing in prison, you understand the film's fanciful facets. No attempt is made to make this movie realistic, or even remotely memorable. It trades on the notion that you'll sit through anything as long as it has an irreverent inner-city ideal, some poo and pee jokes, and lots of shots of Eddie Griffin in cornrows. How this hackneyed humdrum could ever succeed is a mystery not even Dr. Spock could decipher.
Columbia TriStar's release of this trite title is at least decent in the technical dynamics. The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen image is colorful, clean, clear, and very detailed. The Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround purports to immerse you in the movie's mood and good-time party presence, but it only happens when the hip-hop soundtrack kicks in. As for bonus material, we have a gag reel of bloopers that is accurately named for the response your reflex will feel, a bunch of deleted and/or extended scenes which add up to focus group mandates and a behind-the-scenes special that puffs the palaver out of this pathetic product. In combination with the film itself and its overriding repugnance, this is a DVD packed to the gills with gunk.
Maybe somewhere along the line, a real movie will be made about how young men faced with unplanned paternal responsibility stand by their children, and make the most of the hilarious hijinks that ensue. But My Baby's Daddy is so dithering in its desperate dreariness that dudes considering descendants will chop off their nuts rather than sire something so stupid. You'd be well advised to dump this zero and get yourself a hero...sandwich, today.
Review content copyright © 2004 Bill Gibron; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Buena Vista
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 86 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Behind-the-Scenes Special
* Deleted and/or Extended Scenes
* Gag Reel
* Sneak Peeks