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STUDIO: Magnolia Home Entertainment
RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes
- Commentary with Chris D’Arienzo (Director), Patrick Wilson, and Judy Greer
– Deleted scenes with commentary
– Blooper reel
– “Men’s Group” PSA
It’s Knocked Up without the balls…in more ways than one.
Patrick Wilson, Judy Greer, Jean Smart, Chloe Sevigny, Malcolm McDowell, Cybill Shepherd, Billy Dee Williams, Missi Pyle, Colin Hanks, Shea Wigham.
Barry Munday (Wilson) is a slacker in his 30s whose only definable direction in life is to get laid, a pursuit at which he’s marginally successful. However, when he hits on a young girl in a movie, her father comes in and attacks him – with a trumpet of all things. Barry wakes up in the hospital with the devastating news that the doctors had to remove both of his testicles. He barely has the time to adjust to that setback when he’s hit with another kick to the nuts: some girl he doesn’t remember named Ginger (Greer) has informed him (via lawyer) that he’s the father of her unborn baby. Barry then has to try to figure out what his life will be like with no balls, an unexpected baby, and a one night stand who dislikes him.
Barry Munday is a rather tepid exercise that never musters any key narrative conflict and fails to capitalize on some of the assets it has going for it, particularly the acting talent it has on tap. For a heartwarming comedy, there barely anything that spurs either a laugh or a warm fuzzy feeling. The majority of the characters fail to grab and if not for the work of Patrick Wilson in the title role, the film would be a downright disappointment. As it is, it’s a tolerable film that nevertheless is not in the same league with similar such joints as Knocked Up (to which it will invariably be compared).
The main problem with Munday is that it strings together a bunch of plot threads that ultimately fail to pan out or are just forgettable. Add to that the fact that Barry’s character arc is essentially completed before the film is even halfway over, and he spends the majority of the rest of the film just meandering through his various situations. For instance, Barry suffers the devastating loss of his manhood and goes through the expected recovery phases: being withdrawn, unmotivated, lamenting his loss when he looks at women, and even outright crying. But by the time his relationship with Ginger gets going in earnest, he’s essentially a solid citizen again: not really at peace with the loss, but at least having come to terms with it. So the main character challenge one would expect to occupy significantly more of his time…doesn’t. He even verbalizes this fact during a support group intervention scene engineered by his mom late in the story.
Said support group consists of the criminally underused Christopher McDonald and a squad of characters who have suffered various similar genital maladies, including one who has a 16″ noodle dick, a cross dresser who doesn’t even bother to speak, and a guy who has zero genitalia and who pisses out of his ass. This scene is not only presented far too late in the game, but ultimately amounts to nothing more than the chance for McDonald to collect a paycheck and to present a couple of semi-interesting characters for a meaningless one-off appearance. It’s a waste of a scene and also of an opportunity to show some development for Barry along the storyline. By the time this scene arrives, Barry’s already handled his acceptance of his fate himself. so really, what’s the point?
Patrick Wilson also gets little help from the rest of the otherwise talented cast. Jean Smart ably plays his supportive mother; but the majority of their interactions consist of her spouting some sage advice. There’s a plot thread brought up about his father that is resolved unconvincingly by a photo and again, the question of what the point is comes to mind. Judy Greer, who has a very impressive resume, does her best with Ginger, a withdrawn, self-hating shrew whose most meaningful early interactions with Barry consist of calling him a “shiteater” and constantly giving him grief. Quite frankly, early on, she’s a bitch. There’s nothing to like about her early on, and even when there is, there’s not enough conflict between her and Barry the two of them to sustain the entire film. Like Barry’s own personal arc, theirs is resolved about midway and reaches a plateau and thus adds little to the rest of the film. Barry breaks her down, wins her heart and that’s mostly it…halfway through the film.
Getting back to criminally misusing talent, which the film does in spades, Malcolm McDowell phoned in his performance. But it’s not his fault; there’s simply nothing for him to do once he and Barry have their initial Stiller/De Niro Meet The Parents moment. Cybill Shepherd is simply wasted, and Chloe Sevigny plays a flirtatious sister whose meat of her performance consists of tempting Barry on a couple of occasions that also go nowhere. The worst recipient of all this is Shea Wigham, who portrays Barry’s best friend, Donald. He gets a couple of quick outings in an air guitar contest that’s as meaningless as it is brief. Billy Dee Williams must have also had a couple of days to kill. He also has one blink-and-you-miss-it scene of weight and little else.
There were kernels of things to like about Barry Munday. But director Chris D’Arienzo never really gets any of them to pop and as a result, Barry himself wasn’t the only thing in the film missing his potency.
The film looks and sounds fine. There are twenty minutes of deleted scenes, commentary by D’Arienzo, Wilson and Greer, outtakes, bloopers and a “Men’s Group” PSA to round out the offerings.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars