Blu-ray Review: Baby on Board (2009)

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As Lara Flynn Boyle's hell-on-heels, wicked witch of the boardroom boss Mary explains to her employee Heather Graham's Angela, "92.1% of men prefer to deal with a woman who has a family," yet "8.1% of men want to hire a woman with a family."

It's due to this reason and also because it provides one sorely needed laugh in this tragically unfunny "romantic comedy" that Boyle's Mary acquired her family when she purchased a cheap frame with the requisite photo insert at a store, making her faux blissful home life there on her desk when she needs to use the picture to impress yet easily emptied into a drawer when it becomes inconvenient. (Hmm, too bad critics can't do that with this movie although I'm not sure when it would ever impress...)

And unexpected inconvenience of finding yourself in "the family way" as some church folk may phrase it is at the heart of this horrifically abysmal raunch-a-thon. Moreover, it's one wherein the quality of the film can literally be summed up when Graham's Angela-- still unaware that her appalling gas and raging appetite is her body's way of telling her she's expecting a baby-- vomits in an especially gruesome manner all over a parking valet whom IMDb revealed is really the film's co-writer and producer.

For, despite her renowned kindness and gentle spirit that her Hangover co-star Ed Helms likened to "an effervescent" and "sunshiny bright" Buddha or near guru quality in our recent interview--there's no doubt thinking that on some level (and maybe now in retrospect given the finished product) it was an especially fitting and cathartic moment for the terrifically talented actress. Sadly often misused, miscast, and cinematically mistreated-- Heather Graham's brilliance in movies like Boogie Nights and Drugstore Cowboy has been diminished by her goodwill in taking chances on material such as Baby on Board.

However this film which somehow also garnered cast mates like John Corbett and Jerry O'Connell and was refreshingly filmed entirely on location in Chicago, Illinois was essentially doomed from post-production onward. The film marks the follow-up feature length fictional work from My Date With Drew documentarian Brian Herzlinger (whose next movie about post-secondary vampires doesn't bode well either considering the title College Sucks). And when Baby was unable to deliver a theatrical release in any form and a failed attempt to rent out a theatre for a few days in Los Angeles in the hopes of garnering a positive review or word-of-mouth campaign only resulted in one single negative write-up from LA Weekly--made it pretty much guaranteed that Herzlinger's movie would be re-cut by the film's producers and taken out of his hands completely.

Sadly and humiliation complete, it was relegated to making its main debut on DVD and Blu-ray at Blockbuster-- thereby literally living up to the old Hollywood joke that a movie's so bad it premiered at Blockbuster (despite the fact that Blockbuster's exclusive deals with some major studios like IFC and The Weinstein Company has brought stellar entertainment to viewers). Yet, in another act of goodwill, National Entertainment Media took a chance in releasing the movie that may have done better going directly to Showtime or Starz.

Nonetheless, thanks to the surprise smash of Graham's Hangover-- her star power and the familiar faces of the rest of the cast should make it of interest to not just renters but casual film buyers after it was released wider in June.

The press release describes it as a movie that works "in the tradition of Knocked Up and Nine Months" wherein Graham's picture perfect life as a successful career woman living a cozy upper class existence with her divorce attorney mate (Jerry O'Connell) is jeopardized when somehow she manages to conceive a baby despite their routine usage of two condoms. However, to me, the film ultimately seems to evolve into an exceptionally crude version of the entire Farrelly brothers oeuvre mixed alongside What Happens in Vegas and The Break-Up.

Following the baby reveal, a simple misunderstanding which would've been cleared up with one straightforward conversation on both sides drives the rest of the narrative as O'Connell becomes convinced that he couldn't possibly be the baby's father and Graham sees a sleazy client shove her tongue down O'Connell's throat. And their relationship predictably disintegrates-- thanks to the sitcom style marriage of their best friends, who consist of John Corbett's incredibly sexist cheating sleazebag and his fed up wife played by Katie Finneran whose love and marriage has been replaced with loathe and marriage.

Moving their suspicions and jealousy about one another into a battle of the sexes-- (leave no rom-com cliche untried)-- Herzlinger and his equally inauthentic screenwriters Michael Hamilton-Wright and Russell Scalise bet the rest of the movie's comedic success on John Corbett who plays a one-man version of The Man Show as the lewd and repulsive friend whom stupidly O'Connell consults for advice.

While Corbett's Danny may be the go-to man for anything regarding strippers and escorts, his over-the-top '70s Vegas lounge act dialogue sickens and disgusts as he's forced to spew lines that sound like they were the outtakes Burgess Meredith came up with in the Grumpy Old Men movies.

Yet what the writers and Herzlinger don't seem to understand is you can't force funny and in Meredith's case, the fact that he was a grumpy old politically incorrect man helped sell the humor. However, in Baby on Board-- wherein we feel so little regard for our main characters (other than pity for the actors playing them)-- by trying to force us us into laughter with over-the-top gross-out-gags and dialogue just makes it all the more apparent how alarmingly unfunny and tasteless the movie is as a whole.

As far as technical aspects are concerned-- aside from needing to crank the volume past fifty with the uneven distribution of dialogue and the ambient noise-- the Blu-ray is solid if a little overly bright in place which makes it it feel at times like a DVD viewed in a vivid color setting. Inserting a photo gallery and the film's trailer as main extras on the ninety-four minute disc-- there's also a needless commentary by the director and producer Emile Ferrari (presumably missing Russell Scalise because he was still busy cleaning Graham's movie "vomit" off of his wardrobe).