★★★★ - STUFF
- Rose Matafeo shines in funny, fresh Kiwi answer to Knocked Up -
Zoe (Rose Matafeo) has always prided herself on being a daredevil and a free-spirit.
While her friends have started marrying off and having kids (“the hen’s parties and baby showers have started blurring together,” she laments), the arborist and aspiring tree-climbing champion is relieved that partner Tim (Matthew Lewis) is an adventurer like herself.
But when a visit to a nurse reveals a positive pregnancy test (and not a tapeworm as Zoe hoped), her world is turned upside down. Initially trying to hide the news from everyone, including Tim, she is eventually found out after he spots her fondling fruit (as a size comparison).
Brewing trouble turns into a full-blown crisis when she’s denied a bungy jump and realises the countdown is on. “I want to have a baby – I just don’t want to turn into a mum,” Zoe opines.
While a terrific star vehicle for our Edinburgh Festival Award-winning comedian Mataefo, Baby Done isn’t quite the wall-to-wall laugh-fest many viewers might expect. It’s actually much more memorable than some shallow, disposable Hollywood rom-com. Think more Knocked-Up or Juno than Nine Months or What to Expect When You’re Expecting (thank goodness).
That’s largely down to the husband-and-wife team of director Curtis Vowell and screenwriter Sophie Henderson (who created 2013’s quite brilliant Fantail), who manage to navigate a tricky balance of pathos, poignancy and mostly physical humour with aplomb, their well-paced tale building to a crowdpleasing conclusion that, while predictable, at least puts a nice spin on the traditional genre tropes.
Of course, it helps that the self-effacing Matafeo (as she’s proven in her stand-up shows like Horndog) is adept at all three. Most importantly, she’s convincing as an unexpected mother-to-be, taking her denial to extremes and mining her character’s insecurities and foibles for all their comedic value. If British co-star Lewis isn’t as impressive, he at least makes you forget that he was once Harry Potter’s Neville Longbottom.
Like its stablemate The Breaker Upperers, Baby Done also features a cadre of cameos from Kiwi comedians. This is both a blessing and a curse. While Rachel House is brilliant as a school headmaster, Madeleine Sami delights as a cynical nurse and Nic Sampson is the movie’s scene stealer as a preggophile, others like Kura Forrester and Tom Sainsbury (who doesn’t even speak) feel wasted, evoking memories of watching Kiwi films of the 1990s and trying to spot Shortland Street stars amongst the extras.
In the end though, Baby Done, with its hilarious montages, pitch-perfect Kiwi soundtrack (which includes everyone from Coco Solid to Connan Mockasin) and the most awkward three-way since John Key met Richie McCaw and Bernard Lapasset, is exactly the kind of enjoyably entertaining movie we need to entice audiences back to cinemas.
- James Croot, STUFF
Baby Done is now playing at Light House Cinema!