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Preggoland tells the story of Ruth, a 35-year-old woman who pretends to be pregnant to fit in with her friends. Although Ruth initially tries to come clean, the perks of pregnancy are too seductive to ignore and she soon finds herself living a lie. Starring Sonja Bennett (who also wrote the script), James Caan and Danny Trejo and directed by Jacob Tierney (The Trotsky), Preggoland is a comedy that looks at the lengths we will go just to feel special. Written by
Greetings again from the darkness. Understanding women is an unrealistic goal for most men, though we never stop trying. The past couple of years have brought numerous indie films from female filmmakers (writers and directors) and despite all of the new insight, the level of understanding has not really improved rather it's become clear that there were many things we men didn't know that we didn't know.
Along comes a script written by Sonja Bennett that shines a spotlight on a mid-30's single woman who is being left behind by her group of friends as they move on to motherhood and family life. Ms. Bennett also stars as Ruth, the party girl whose drunken behavior at a friend's is not just inappropriate, but also injures a child. Her group of long-time friends decides that Ruth no longer fits in their circle and they inform her that she would be happier in a different social environment.
Ruth's steady stream of booze and cigarettes, and the fact that she still lives with her dad (James Caan), set her in stark contrast to her "perfect" sister Hillary (Lisa Durupt) who has just announced she and her smartphone-bound husband are working on having a baby. This makes the grandfather-to-be VERY happy. Not long after, in a quirky unfolding of events, Ruth is mistakenly identified as "with child", and rather than nip the misunderstanding in the bud, the fib is allowed to fully blossom setting the stage for the entire story.
What follows is a combination of dark humor and slapstick that never quite clicks. By nature, the premise makes the ending somewhat predictable, but there are moments of brilliance in the script. However, it's the comedy portions that never really bring the laughs except for one pretty startling site gag sequence involving more Jello than even Bill Cosby has ever seen (is it OK to make a Cosby reference these days?).
Most impressive is that the vast majority of scenes are between women, and about women. Yes, there is a love interest (Paul Campbell), a demanding dad (Caan), and comedy relief in the form of Danny Trejo, but these are mostly minor players in this perspective of how women treat each other once the "bun in the oven" comes into play. It's also a commentary on what happens when a little oops is allowed to snowball into a no-win situation.
Director Jacob Tierney's film has had success at film festivals, and that's understandable since it's a nice change of pace from the vast majority of ultra-serious films populating the lineups. While the education effort of female filmmakers continues most of us men will appreciate the Jello catastrophe, but still end up right where we started with a glazed-over look, hoping we don't say the wrong thing.
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