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MAYBE BABY

SYNOPSIS:
Sam (Hugh Laurie) and Lucy (Joely Richardson) are happily married - but childless, depsite trying ever so often and ever so earnestly, experimenting with everything from ovulation charts to - eventually - the desperate measure of IVF. And while Sam contemplates his possible biological infertility, his writer's mind seems equally infertile. When he finds inspiration in his own real situation, his pen (if not his penis) start producing - without Lucy's knowledge. He uses every moment and every intimate experience to drive his script, which the BBC puts into production. But Sam is found out and his worst nightmare really begins.

"The Brits used to be renowned for subtlety, wit, cutting humour and eloquence. With Maybe Baby, Ben Elton single handedly kills off that reputation, with overblown nonsense which has little to redeem it. Romantic comedy is a tough nut to crack, and a story about the central character writing about the very (one idea) story we are watching needs even more than usual aplomb to pull it off. With the repetitive script, editing that at times seems more like chopping and a series of lines that come from a frustrated typerwriter not a fully realised character, there is no maybe about Maybe Baby: it's a pooey nappy in the bagwash of cinematic life. For much of the film, humour is absent, and then it turns maudling. By the time we find the real characters, it's too late: we don't recognise them from the first few reels. Beats me why so many fine English actors took such pitiful roles, as if begging to work with Elton: Emma Thompson does a short turn as a benign vegetarian nut, Joanna Lumley has two scenes. Rowan Atkinson (up to his usual brilliant standard) has one wickedly fruity moment as a specialist doctor. And Tom Hollander, who steals the film as Ewan Proclaimer the artistic wunderkind who, first rejected by Sam for a terrible script idea, ends up directing his screenplay. James Purefoy is also admirable, Joely Richardson retains her dignity throughout and shows her class with material that just isn't ready to film. And while Hugh Laurie is miscast, he does what he can as the miserable writer. I make these points to save these actors from the cheap damnation of this otherwise negative review."
Andrew L. Urban

"Boasting a superlative cast, Maybe Baby is a very British comedy about a couple, a dog and the trials and tribulations of parenting la IVF. Has potential, you might say. It's lighthearted with some splendid moments as well as some potent home truths, but Ben Elton's debut stumbles with a script that goes around and around, never quite knowing whether it's a delectable morsel to savour or a slightly more serious romantic comedy. When producer Phil McIntyre is quoted as saying 'It's Four Weddings and a Funeral with balls and a vagina', he is obviously wishing and hoping. The magic of Four Weddings was a result of our falling in love with the characters. And that's what Maybe Baby needs. We need to be charmed by this loving couple, whose spontaneous sizzle is put through the mundane mill of medical intervention. In fact the film feels much longer than its 99 minute running time, largely due to its repetitious single concept screen play. Hugh Laurie and Joely Richardson make the most of their screen characters, but at times, I caught myself wishing I was watching the debonnair Hugh Grant and the soulful Kristen Scott-Thomas instead. Nonetheless, the cameos are special. Stealing every screen moment as the obstetrician, is the incomparable Rowan Atkinson, whose debauched caricature has enough truths to work wonderfully. Joanna Lumley is fun as the lesbian theatrical agent, Dawn French over the top as the IVF nurse, and Emma Thompson bizarre as the wafty spiritual guru. But the star of the show is Tom Hollander, whose fanatic Scottish film director is both repulsive and fascinating. There are more chuckles than laughs, and perhaps women will relate better than men to the emotional themes. I certainly wanted to enjoy it more and that's despite Paul McCartney's great vocals for the title tune."
Louise Keller

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 1

TRAILER

SOFCOM MOVIE TIMES

MAYBE BABY (M)
(UK)

CAST: Hugh Laurie, Joely Richardson, Adrian Lester, James Purefoy, Tom Hollander, Joanna Lumley, Rowan Atkinson, Dawn French, Emma Thompson

DIRECTOR: Ben Elton

PRODUCER: Phil McIntyre

SCRIPT: Ben Elton

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Roger Lanser ACS

EDITOR: Peter Hollywood

MUSIC: Colin Towns

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jim Clay

RUNNING TIME: 99 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: REP

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE DATE: August 17, 2000







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