Babies are a pain, both before and after they’re around.
Freddy (Sebastián Silva) and Mo (Tunde Adebimpe) have been together for quite some time and they feel as if now is the right moment to finally start the family they’ve always wanted. However, considering that they are both men and aren’t able to get pregnant, they decide that their best friend, Polly (Kristen Wiig) is the perfect person to go through with the procedure, especially since she doesn’t at all mind and considers both men to her best friends. However, as Freddy, Mo and Polly continue on and on to get pregnant and have this damn baby that they’ve been craving for all these years, certain issues arise. For Polly, she is having problems actually getting pregnant, with some sperm working and some others, not. As for Freddy, well, he’s starting to get a tad crazy. With pressures at work and at home, Freddy is finding himself constantly acting out in an erratic manner where he’s lashing out anybody around him, even if he knows full well that he’s being a terrible person. Still though, what keeps them all together is the idea of this baby, regardless of if it actually is conceived or not.
There’s at least two movies within Nasty Baby, one is fine, whereas the other shows promise through and through, until it eventually just plays itself out and becomes oddly placed in a film that, quite frankly, can’t be bothered with it. What I mean by saying this is that whereas one half of Nasty Baby plays out like a funny, rather insightful tale about sex, gender, and the idea of a modern-day family, the other half seems like a tense thriller, where we don’t have a full grasp on what’s going to happen next, nor what’s going to happen to whom. All we kn ow is that things are getting more riled-up as they move along, and in ways, it’s interesting to see how writer/director Sebastian Silva places it throughout the movie.
At the same time, however, it still causes an issue for the film’s tone.
Cause, for one, it’s incredibly uneven. One scene, we’ll be sitting back and watching as a bunch of characters pal around with one another and just seem to chew the fat, but then, in the next scene, we’ll get one where Reg E. Cathey’s homeless character is terrorizing characters because, well, he’s crazy and homeless and that’s how all homeless men act, apparently. Regardless of whether or not this makes any sense, Silva does present this character enough times to make it clear why he’s around, but never seems to actually make better sense of why he exists. It seems like Silva wants this character around to create some sort of obstacle, or better yet, villain for these characters to overcome? Which is fine and all, but this is an indie that’s supposed to be about a anybody’s lives – having Cathey around to just be an evil nut-job, constantly causing havoc wherever he goes, feels a bit silly and over-the-top.
Cathey himself is fine in the role, but really, all he has to do is act like a crazed lunatic and have you feel like he could fly off the handle at any second. Cathey’s effective at this aspect of the character, but still can’t make it clear why his character, or his character’s subplot, needs to exist in Nasty Baby after all. After all, the movie would have been fine, had it just paid sole attention to what was going on with Kristen Wiig’s character.
But considering we didn’t get that movie, it’s probably best not to talk “what ifs”, and more about “what’s actually on the table”.
And what’s on the table for Nasty Baby is a promising tale about fertility, starting a family, and deciding whether or not you’re actually fit to be a parent in the first place. If anything, Silva brings up some interesting ideas about what constitutes the normal, American family of today and, in a way, sort of skewers it. There’s a scene involving a family dinner in which the idea of a gay marriage comes into play, and rather than coming off as preachy and obvious, it actually plays out both sides quite well. One side has reasoning for being against gay marriage that doesn’t have to do with the fact that their just bigots, and the other side who is for gay marriage, doesn’t go around spouting about it and how everybody should feel the same as they do.
And even the scenes with Kristen Wiig’s character, where the situation tends to get more and more awkward when more sperm needs to be produced, but really, it all goes away once Silva sets his sights elsewhere with the story. Also, it’s worth mentioning that Silva himself, despite being a talented writer and director, isn’t quite the best actor. Some of that has to do with the fact that he hasn’t quite perfected his English just yet, but another good portion of that has to do with the fact that his character is kind of boring in that he doesn’t really seem to have much more to him than just a bunch of whining and complaining and that’s it. We get some background on his own father, but really, it seems like filler and an excuse to give Silva more time to work in his own movie.
Wiig and especially, Tunde Adebimpe, fare a lot better off, but neither are flashy here. Wiig may not be as reserved as she’s been in some of her previous indies, but still shows a lot of heart and humanity, as well as her much-adored charm. As for Adebimpe, he’s a very calming and relaxing presence on screen, that goes a long way whenever it seems like Silva’s character is getting on our nerves and doesn’t really have anything interesting to say. It’s not just the character he’s playing, but also Adebimpe himself, who keeps Silva, as well as the rest of Nasty Baby grounded, even when it seems to go absolutely bonkers at some of the most random moments.
Consensus: Essentially two movies into one, Nasty Baby works better with the more insightful of the two, whereas the second story comes in, goes and then feels forced, making everything feel off and disjointed.
5 / 10
Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire