Film Review: Don't Worry Baby

Father and son boff the same babe—and a baby girl results. From this queasy premise, an onscreen abortion is wrought.
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The problems of rich white folk reach a towering level of absurdity in this quite ridiculous farce of a family drama. It seems that middle-aged-and-hating-it Harry (Christopher McDonald) has slept with the same young aspiring artist of a girl, Sarabeth (Dreama Walker), as his loser aspiring photographer son, Robert (John Magaro), who works at the tony East Side preschool his parents run. And guess what? Sarabeth gets pregnant and has a little girl, Mason (Rainn Williams). Who’s her daddy?

Don’t Worry Baby has been billed as a rom-com, a generational study, the new urban landscape, what have you. But what it really is is a mystery—i.e., why writer-director Julian Branciforte thought anyone would possibly be interested in or taken by his idiotically fanciful conceit posing, one surmises, as his idea of real life. To begin with, at a time when our entire nation is financially straitened, none of the characters seems to be concerned about making money, and the fact that Robert whines about having to toil in Daddy’s nursery inspires hostility rather than empathy. Adding further incredulity to the circumstances is the fact that his mother, Miriam (Talia Balsam), estranged from Harry due to his serial adultery, returns from Cabo, is apprised of the situation and, rather than shrieking for more future alimony, becomes a loving grandma and Sarabeth supporter.

With a winning enough cast, Branciforte might have pulled this absurdity off.  Unfortunately, neither Magaro’s incessantly morose narcissism nor McDonald’s preening, overripe handsomeness are the stuff that dreams are made of. (Indeed, when you see McDonald salivatingly trawling the Internet for twenty-something babes, revulsion may well set in.) Their combative relationship resolutely fails to be touching, even at the nauseatingly touchy-feely ending, with everyone united in utter thrall to little Mason. Playing her, Williams rewards her director with the most archly cutesy-poo performance since Margaret O’Brien at her miniscule yet calculated prime. Walker has a gremlin prettiness that may appeal to some, but it’s hard to warm to a mother so distracted by seemingly every guy in New York, and getting high, that she forgets that her child needs to be picked up from school. As Miriam, Balsam, the most seasoned cast member, manages to emerge as something resembling a real person, even given the outlandish wish-fulfillment dimensions of her role, the absolute ultimate in nobly understanding wives.

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