A quirkier, indier, but less gratifying version of 2007's "Knocked Up
," "Barry Munday" is a gentle piffle always threatening to blow away like the seeds of a dandelion. It's diverting enough, but lacking in conflict. Most of the characters are severely underwritten, especially irksome since the cast is so strong. The script by first-time writer-director Chris D'Arienza (based on the novel "Life Is a Strange Place" by Frank Turner Hollon) is swallowed up by one-liners on cue, animated reaction shots, and unnecessary, too-colorful tangents that scream of a novice touch. Were it not for the four-letter words and the absence of a laugh track, "Barry Munday" might be confused for a network sitcom, the kind that lasts a season and then gets canceled due to lukewarm ratings.
A nine-to-fiver by day, serial player by night, Barry Munday (Patrick Wilson) has no sooner lost his testicles in a trumpet assault when he learns one of his previous conquests, the mousy, otherwise virginal Ginger Farley (Judy Greer), is pregnant with his child. Very much aware that it's his last shot at ever conceiving, Barry puts his sexual past behind him and does his best to step up to the plate and support Ginger. He doesn't remember her, and she knows ita cause for much resentment on her part until she begins to see the potential good guy behind the slimeball veneer.
"Barry Munday" may, in essence, be about a man stripped of his testes, but at no point does the viewer get the sense that anything is truly at stake. Furthermore, the film isn't very believablenot the story, per se
, but the way in which the characters are portrayed and interact with one another. The whole thing falls into the habit of feeling scripted instead of natural. As a protagonist, Barry Munday experiences an epiphany and makes a life change following his injury, and that's it for his arc. He's a nice guy here on out, not struggling with his reformation, having second doubts about his abilities as a father, and so on. Patrick Wilson (2010's "The Switch
") amiably plays the title role, an unlikely hero with so little complexity he really doesn't deserve a movie named after him.
Judy Greer (2009's "Love Happens
"), forever destined to play second banana, finally nabs a lead of her own. She steals the show as the cautious, untrusting Ginger Farley, labeling Barry a "shit-eater" until she warms to him. Greer is diverse, able to play any type of part called for, and she slips into Ginger's comic tell-it-like-it-is shoes without becoming a caricature. She's just about the only character who isn't. As flirty younger sister Jennifer, Chloe Sevigny (2007's "Zodiac
") is underused, director Chris D'Arienza not sure what to do with her. There is a subplot where Barry thinks he spots Jennifer moonlighting at a strip club, but nothing really comes of it. The rest of the cast is one-note all the way, no fault of the stranded actors, from Jean Smart (2010's "Youth in Revolt
") as Barry's mom, to Malcolm McDowell (2010's "Easy A
") and Cybill Shepherd as Mr. and Mrs. Farley, to Missi Pyle (2008's "Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay
") as Barry's ex-girlfriend Lida, to a wholly unrecognizable Colin Hanks (2008's "The House Bunny
") as the heavy metal-obsessed Greg.
"Barry Munday" is the tale of a man who physically loses something important to him, but gains a backbone and becomes responsible in the process. Within that is nothing surprising or enlightening or all that affecting. The baby born looks to be about six months. A question arises as to whether Barry really is the father, but it's cleared up with minor fuss. The movie's a pleasant sit, humorous in spots, but so frothy and uneventful it's almost like it doesn't exist. It certainly makes little impact. You watch it, you shrug, you go about your day.