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Maybe Baby

movie review out of 4 Movie Review: Maybe Baby

Starring: Hugh Laurie, Joely Richardson
Director: Ben Elton
Rated: R
RunTime: 104 Minutes
Release Date: August 2001
Genres: Comedy, Romance

*Also starring: Adrian Lester, Rowan Atkinson, Emma Thompson, Dawn French, Joanna Lumley, Yasmin Bennerman

Reviewer Roundup
1.  Harvey Karten review follows ---
2.  UK Critic read the review movie review

Review by Harvey Karten
No Rating Supplied

Men have only one thing on their minds. Agreed. But women do as well. The difference is that what women have on their minds has greater repercussions. Women want babies and when they can't have them, they will resort to all sorts of procedures to get them. In Federico Garcia Lorca's story "Yerma," the title character kills her husband for his inability to help her out in that department while in Ben Elton's movie "Maybe Baby," the woman is the one who takes on most of the hardships for being presumably inconceivable.

"Maybe Baby" is a light comedy but it is not a fluffy one, one that you can forget about two minutes after leaving the theater. Its success can be attributed in part to a clever script by Ben Elton based on his own novel entitled "Inconceivable," but mostly by the writer-director's excellent casting. He's put together a team which bounces dialogue off one another smartly with particularly amusing performances from character actor Rowan Atkinson as a gynecologist and Tom Hollander, an English performer who adopts an uncanny Scottish accent in the role of an egotistical, over-the-top film director.

"Maybe Baby" features the attractive and charming Joely Richardson in the role of Lucy Bell, married to Sam (Hugh Laurie- -considered by the director to be the Tom Hanks or perhaps even the George Clooney of his native Britain). Sam is a well-paid scripter who is currently blocked not just in the writing department. His wife Lucy is in her thirties, desperately wants a baby, and in a fast, attention-getting opening scene buzzes her husband on his cell phone to report that she is ovulating and that he must stop what he's doing to bike right home.

While a considerable part of the film deals with the frustrations of baby-making--which makes sex more of a mechanical and anxiety-producing process than one of ecstasy--Elton takes us in a Pirandellian fashion into the business of making a film about a couple desperate to make a baby. When Lucy discovers that her own ideas have been plagiarized by her husband, who has written the screenplay for the film, she goes ballistic, threatening their marriage..

On the negative side, Elton throws in hackneyed accounts of sperm-bank donations, setting up the usual stick figures such as the hysterically friendly nurse giving instructions to the poor male who must now convert his main teenage pleasure into a gruesome laboratory procedure. This is nothing, of course, compared to what a woman must go through, including a process of in vitro fertilization presided over by a sadistic doctor (Rowan Atkinson) who wields metal instruments like a modern Torquemada and who recites a litany of diseases that his patient does not have. Ben Elton succeeds in turning a couple's pain into effective comedy while at the same time refusing to make light of their anguish.

Copyright 2001 Harvey Karten

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