The Man-Child, All Grown Up

After a stunted Lothario gets his testicles hacked off by a trumpet, will he ever find happiness? Barry Munday, directed by Chris D’Arienzo, is the latest entry into the “manchild grows up when he has a baby” genre, and is unremarkable, except for Barry himself. Played by an excellent Patrick Wilson, Barry is the kind of loser whom you’ve probably met before. He has a girlfriend who hates him, works in a depressing office where he hits on his secretary, and still gets wasted with his best and only real friend, Donald (Shea Whigham). Despite his general failure at life, Barry Munday still thinks he’s pretty great, until he literally loses his cojones.

But not to worry. Right after Barry’s crisis, he conveniently realizes he has fathered a baby with a shrewish woman named Ginger Farley, who hates Barry’s guts and wants nothing to do with him. Played by Judy Greer, usually typecast in Hollywood as the lovable and kooky assistant (see The Wedding Planner, 27 Dresses), Ginger often edges toward the hysteria of an SNL character. Wearing oversized jumpsuits and 80’s glasses, she crinkles her forehead and grunts and grumbles through pregnancy, directing all of her antipathy and anxiety towards Barry. “You’re not the one who has to feel like your breasts are two bags of wet sand!” she hisses at him when he tries to show his support. Ginger is a caricature of an undesirable woman, so it’s puzzling as to why the sexist Barry would suddenly pursue her. Barry’s quick change of tune, from hapless narcissist to doting father, doesn’t completely make sense, and he doesn’t thoroughly explain himself.

The real problem with “Barry Munday” is that it feels like a mash-up of several different movies, while not achieving the continuity of any of them: the lost manchild theme from Knocked Up, the low production value and 70’s nostalgia of Napoleon Dynamite, the schlock of Meet the Parents and slapstick cheese of Father of the Bride. There are too many characters with half-baked subplots: Chloë Sevigny as Ginger’s blonde stripper sister; Jean Smart as Barry’s half-baked hippie mother; Shea Whigham as Barry’s best friend who enters air-guitar contests and wins trophies; a support group for men with unusual private parts, including one who pees out of his anus.

But thankfully, the movie really belongs to Patrick Wilson. Looking pudgy in striped polo shirts, with stringy brown hair and a receding hairline, he disappears into the role, showing a knack for physical comedy while being empathetic and believable. His performance compensates for several holes in the plot and pacing of the film. Tonally, the movie has an identity crisis, but at the center of it all is Barry Munday, who is so adorable and pathetic, you can’t help but root for him to end up happy, even if you don’t care what happens to anyone else.

- By Cassandra McGrath

Barry Munday opened in selected theatres on October 1st. For more information, please visit www.barrymundayfilm.com.

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