(director/writer: Nikole Beckwith; cinematographer: Frank Barrera; editor: Annette Davey; music: Alex Somers; cast: Ed Helms (Matt), Patti Harrison (Anna), Rosalind Chao (Dr. Andrews), Anna Konkle (Shayleen), Evan Jonigkeit (Bryce), Tig Notaro (Madeline), Julio Tores (Jules), Bianca Lopez (Liz), Nora Dunn (Adele), Fred Melamed (Marty), Vivian Gil (Server), Sufe Bradshaw (Jean); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Lia Buman, Anita Gou, Rebecca Cammarata, Toby Louie, Kevin Mann, Chris Boyd, Nikole Beckwith, Daniel Crown, Bill Benenson; Haven Entertainment/Bleecker Street; 2021)
“Though I have nothing nasty to say about the genial comedy, I can’t say it knocked me off my feet.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Overwrought dramedy about exploring love and parenthood, with a gimmicky premise that never gets to you emotionally and a script that never makes sense. It’s directed and written by Nikole Beckwith (“Stockholm, Pennsylvania“). It’s a lightweight tale that has a sweetness throughout. The film capitalizes greatly on the wry comedy offered by Patti Harrison, in her first starring role. She plays Anna, who is a young woman hired for money by the 40-something Matt (Ed Helms) to be the surrogate mother of his first child. Matt is straight and single, and is a nice guy who worries too much for no reasons.
The gist of the story, set in San Francisco, is about a pleasant platonic friendship that grows between the App designer and the professional surrogate during her pregnancy, as the two bond over watching Friends on TV. This might be nice but left us with a dull story that had no juice and nothing for us to concern ourselves about.
There are minor irritation points the duo deal with that are raised during her pregnancy, such as who has the rights over the unborn child. A child who is cutely called by the gender-neutral nickname “lamp” because the gender remains unknown.
While Anna keeps it strictly as a business deal, Matt tries to make it into a possible real relationship.
We learn Anna caused some fireworks in the past, as she upset her parents when dropping out of college when pregnant and single. While Matt is as colorless as any square has a right to be, and seems to have nothing in his past to besmirch him. He never articulates why he wants a child, but we can assume it’s to give his life some purpose.
The supporting cast gets some sitcom good snark from Sufe Bradshaw’s sarcastic ultrasound medic, from her witty colleague (Julio Torres) and from the bland therapist (Tig Notaro), who has no opinions on anything. Also, the scenes of the birthing classes were conducted with joy by the endearing earth mother Shayleen (Anna Konkle).
Though I have nothing nasty to say about the genial comedy, I can’t say it knocked me off my feet.
REVIEWED ON 2/23/2021 GRADE: C+