Preggoland (2014) / Comedy-Romance
MPAA Rated: Not rated, but would be R for sexual references, drug content, and langauage
Running Time: 109 min.
Cast: Sonja Bennett, Paul Campbell, James Caan, Danny Trejo, Laura Harris, Carrie Ruscheinsky, Denise Jones, Lisa Durupt, Jared Keeso
Director: Jacob Tierney
Screenplay: Sonja Bennett
Review published January 29, 2015
With all of the hullabaloo about American Sniper and its unintentionally humorous use of a fake baby in one of the film's key dramatic scenes, perhaps it is a good time to discuss another film in which a fake baby is used to get some intentional laughs.
Sonja Bennett (The Fog, Punch), who wrote the original screenplay (her first), stars as Ruth, a thirty-five-year-old slacker stuck in arrested development, unmarried, still living with her father (Caan, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2), and still doing the same supermarket cashier job she's had since she was 15. She still smokes, drinks, and listens to the same music of her youth (CeCe Peniston's "Finally" is a fave go-to), but is soon finding that what once made her cool is now making her appear a bit pathetic. With all of her friends able to move on and have husbands and children of their own, and after making an ass of herself at one of her besties' baby showers, Ruth is told she just doesn't fit in anymore, furthering her shift from loser to loner in a very real way.
Through a series of coincidences too amusing to relate without spoiling some of the laughs, Ruth finds herself faking a pregnancy in order to keep her job, please her father, annoy her desirous-for-child younger sister (Durupt, "Less Than Kind"), gain the love of a potential new beau (Campbell, 88 Minutes), and get back into the inner circle of friends. She wants to come clean, but doesn't want to jeopardize all that she has been successful in building up, now that people are treating her with a newfound respect. The question is, she has only a few months to make good before people catch on that she's perpetrating a fraud to them all.
Not without its moments of amusement, Preggoland plays out more like an extended episode of an HBO original comedy than it does a full-fledged feature film. There are plenty of potentially big laughs to be had for those who, well, laugh easily at mildly rude humor, though the movie is filled with contrived moments that will likely run a bit too obvious in its approach to more seasoned comedy film-goers.
Bennett does bring forth an adequate amount of comedy from the premise, enough to make it watchable in a low-rent indie sort of way, but the direction by Jacob Tierney, while not bad, isn't able to completely cover over the machinations of the gags. And some of those gags feel like retreads of jokes we've seen in other comedies, both big screen and small, which is why I feel like those who don't regularly feast of awkward-moment comedies will have more mileage than those who've seen their fair share. (My film-festival crowd of predominantly middle-aged-and-up women found even the most trite of sight gags to be gut-busters).
Still, even if the timing of the comedy and stiff quality of the performances leave a lot of room for improvement, I won't say that it grows tiresome overall, even if it does feel a bit redundant and slack from time to time (It could stand to benefit from a 20-minute trim-down). It's not the sort of thing that will likely sate those who pay full ticket price, but on the small screen, it might be a hit, as the escalating-lie, TV-sitcom vibe will feel more at home at home.
©2015 Vince Leo