Judge Eric Profancik thinks that fathers should teach their sons three things: how to fish, how to cope with girls, and how to avoid movies like this one.
"Who's your daddy?" takes on a whole new meaning!
The oddest thing happened as I was compiling the information to put this review together: It appeared that Daddy Who? didn't exist. I certainly could pull it up at Amazon, but I came up high and dry over at IMDb. Seeing as the title didn't exist, I decided to pull up the bio of a star from the film and find the cross-link. No luck. Sean "I Love Frodo" Astin was my starting point, yet his resume was clean of any title even remotely similar to Daddy Who?. Well, after much back and forth, the obvious answer came to be: This little film was originally known as Kimberly. Usually name changes are linked better, but not in this case. This little snafu was quite apropos for the film itself.
In looking at the cover, I had a sinking feeling that this would be a "gay film"—not that there's anything wrong with that. The cover shows four "strapping young lads" with the female star gazing upwards at them. None of the men looked that manly (sorry, Samwise), so I deduced it would be some quirky gay/straight five-way combo going on. Much to my surprise, I was wrong. Everyone is straight in this film, but it's still a mess. The rather simple story goes as follows.
Four friends regularly get together to do some rowing (the type that's all the rage in Boston and the Ivy League schools), but they are not that good. As luck would have it, the daughter of an Olympian rower strolls into town and is convinced to become their coxswain. The four boys, all smitten by the saucy beauty of their new coach, make a pact to not make any romantic overtures toward her. They all break their promise, and she ends up dating all four guys. In due course, she ends up in bed with each of them, and soon thereafter she announces she's pregnant. But who's the daddy? We follow the curious relationship of the four men and the one lady as they train for the upcoming regatta and as she decides to have the baby.
Several simple and obvious thoughts came to mind as we learn she's pregnant. First, anyone ever hear of a condom? I feared our leading lady, Kimberly (Gabrielle Anwar), was quite the irresponsible slut; luckily, a throwaway line tells us that the condom must have broken. Thank goodness! I'd hate to think that nobody thought to use protection! Next, two words bubbled up: paternity test. If you don't know who the daddy is, there are tests available to figure it out. Why keep four guys in tow? Why make four guys suffer if you can determine the real father? I say "suffer" because most of these guys are not prepared to become a dad. But as the movie progresses, we learn there is no need for a paternity test. Why? I won't tell you that, because it's a major spoiler and we avoid those here at the Verdict.
>From the word go, I wanted to hate this movie. Something about either the cover or the description on the packaging made my flesh crawl. While Daddy Who? rises above engendering that level of bile in this reviewer, it is a trite waste of celluloid. It turns out that these five people are neurotic, selfish, and rather unlovable characters. They are barely formed caricatures, riding a wave of clichés that propels the movie forward. There are almost moments of enjoyment, but they are quickly drowned by torrents of angst-ridden paranoia. If you've seen more than one romantic comedy in your day, then you've seen everything this film has to offer—and doesn't have to offer. It has nothing new, and it's a cursory paint by numbers of everything you don't want in this type of film.
I will leave you with one final, odd resolution with Kimberly, as she has a surprising turnabout by the end of the film. Throughout Daddy Who?, she's just a beautiful woman who messed around with some guys and is now pregnant. That's about it. She's just there. I didn't really care about her; in fact, I didn't think much of her, which is odd considering she's the crux of the film. Yet once she's delivered her baby, something happens that made me end up hating her. Now that took me by surprise, for it was clearly not the intention of this film for you to end up hating the leading lady.
This barebones disc from Ardustry Home Entertainment also resulted in another unintentional outcome: I didn't know, nor could I fully deduce, the video specifications of the DVD. I have no definitive data on the aspect ratio of the film, but my best conclusion is that it is presented in a full frame, 1:33.1 ratio. Regardless, the video quality is acceptable for this movie that flew under the radar. While colors are accurate and there are no significant errors, the picture is a touch soft, with a mellow palette and reduced details. You can choose either a Dolby Digital 5.1 or 2.0 mix, and either is suitable for this dialogue-intensive film. I don't believe I heard the surrounds used one time. All you'll find besides the movie on the disc are trailers for Daddy Who?, Bitter Harvest, and Sated.
Daddy Who? could be worse, but it's not a movie to seek out. It didn't make a ripple back in 1999, and it won't make any waves on DVD in 2005. If romantic comedies are your forte, don't touch this one. It feels like a gloried Lifetime movie of the week.
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• Trailers for Daddy Who?, Bitter Harvest, and Sated
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