Seven years after the fact, a man comes to the realization that he was the sperm donor for his best friend's boy.Seven years after the fact, a man comes to the realization that he was the sperm donor for his best friend's boy.Seven years after the fact, a man comes to the realization that he was the sperm donor for his best friend's boy.
Okay, it would be easy to dis this movie as a canned, obvious, emotionally thin contrivance. It's a vehicle for two popular stars playing characters in their 30s who are, despite good looks and basic social skills, single and childless. They have to fall in love but life gets in the way in kind of stupid ways. You can't take it seriously, and you can't even quite care enough to hope for the best, whatever that is.
But it's also easy to like this movie despite its obviousness. Jason Bateman is a joy to watch. Maybe his performance is like the movie--glib and facile. But like the movie he is endlessly watchable, and his character is the one with the most depth. His interactions with the boy of six or so are terrific. The boy, too, is adorable and helps the movie get some feeling.
Jennifer Aniston plays the woman who wants a child but has no one willing to be the dad, more or less (though the viewer knows better). And she's a terrific actress, actually, even if her role here (and elsewhere) is often not as demanding as it could be. I suppose Meg Ryan has some kind of edge on her for this kind of stereotype--the lovable lonely urban girl who just can't get love right despite the obvious--but Aniston is an update on that type.
But it is Aniston and Bateman together that really make the movie glide along and make you smile. They have great rapport and good timing, comedic and serious both. I wouldn't say they have chemistry (I guess that's the problem their characters have, so maybe it's great acting) but they make their scenes pop in a way the rest of the movie trundles.
The story writer, Jeffrey Eugenides, is better known for sprawling novels and lots of interrelated characters, but even there there are little hooks that come off a hair obvious. That's the problem here, in the end. There's a big trick, a wonderful and funny hook of an idea, and that almost alone has to handle all the consequences. Some better character development would have been a joy.
Oh, and it's been a long time since a movie with two directors has been able to pull off consistency. I don't know the logistics behind it, but maybe one of the hesitations all along is a lack of singular conviction. Or not. Maybe this is such a formula product any number of directors could have chipped in.
Watch it for the two leads together. And for some fun, warm laughs, if that's your thing. I enjoyed it.
- Jun 28, 2013