- Rated R
- Buy the BD
All photos © Magnolia Pictures
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
atrick Wilson hasn’t had the greatest of luck when it comes to movies and his manhood. He was castrated by a diabolical Ellen Page in “Hard Candy” and had trouble getting it up in Zack Snyder’s big screen adaptation of “Watchmen.” His third go-around with this particularly emasculating complication is Chris D’Arienzo’s “Barry Munday,” a movie that manages to be both funny and touching when it doesn’t seem capable of either. Though the film is obviously targeted towards a certain demographic (namely, the kind of adult males who frequent this site), the fact that it plays a lot like “Knocked Up” for grown-ups suggests it will eventually cast a much wider net upon release.
Wilson plays the title character, a wannabe ladies man who's constantly hitting on women and just as often getting turned down. But when an embarrassing incident involving an underage girl, her father, and a trumpet results in him losing both of his testicles, Barry’s confidence plummets. To make matters worse, he returns from the hospital to discover that Ginger Farley (Judy Greer), a woman he doesn’t even remember having sex with, is carrying his illegitimate child. Faced with the prospect of his family name dying with him, Barry decides to embrace his duties as the father – a decision that leads to the realization that it may have taken losing his manhood for him to finally become a man.
Based on the Frank Turner Hollon novel, “Life is a Strange Place,” D’Arienzo’s film is an indie-sized production with a Hollywood-sized cast. Though the first-time director doesn’t bring much visually to the project, the screenplay (which he also wrote) is loaded with big laughs and even bigger heart. It may come off as a little weird that Barry Munday is able to transform from a wannabe ladies man into a responsible father so quickly, but when you take into account the fact that he’ll never be able to reproduce again, it actually makes a lot of sense. Most men think about the future of their legacy at some point in their lives, and though Barry can come across like a bit of an immature jerk at times, his journey to parenthood is engaging enough that you still root for him.
Still, it would be a pretty hard sell without someone like Patrick Wilson in the lead role, as the success of the film hinges on his performance. Wilson has been delivering solid work ever since he arrived on the scene, but he’s still a relative unknown to most moviegoers. “Barry Munday” isn’t going to change that, but it’s a great venue for his talent, especially considering the role is so different from his previous work. Judy Greer is also great as the homely mother-to-be, and Chloë Sevigny and Malcolm McDowell (as Ginger’s sister and father, respectively) inject a little life into otherwise paper-thin characters. But this is Wilson’s show, and when you’re playing the title character of a movie that proudly presents his name in all caps, that’s probably the way it should be.
Single-Disc Blu-Ray Review:
There’s not a lot to love about Magnolia’s Blu-ray release of “Barry Munday,” but they deserve points for trying. The commentary track with writer/director Chris D’Arienzo and stars Patrick Wilson and Judy Greer is entertaining enough, and the outtakes are plentiful. Rounding out the set is 20 minutes of deleted scenes, a short educational video starring Christopher McDonald’s character, and an HDNet promo for the film.