Directed by: Cheryl Dunye
Starring: Eddie Griffin, Anthony Anderson, Michael Imperioli, Method Man, John Amos
What a way to start the new year!
OK, we all knew it wasn't going to be good when the studio -- in a fit of inspired desperation -- decided to change the title of this film from My Baby's Mama to the seemingly more appealing My Baby's Daddy. And while I won't argue that the new title is more to the point (though Three Men and Three Babies would be more honest), it also proves the truth of the saying that a rose by any other name smells.
Another red flag was a screenplay by star Eddie Griffin and no less than three other writers -- Damon "Coke" Daniels (no prior literary offenses, though the parenthetical nickname perhaps explains his sense of humor), Brent Goldberg (Van Wilder) and David T. Wagner (partner in crime with Goldberg on Van Wilder -- not to mention that cinematic classic Saving Ryan's Privates). This simply did not bode well.
The good news is that, despite their combined efforts, this lot could only come up with a movie that takes up 78 minutes of screen time (unless you sit through the ending credits, which I can't imagine). The bad news is the astonishing amount of stupidity and offensiveness they were able to cram into that time.
Most of the film is an array of stock gags centering around the bewhiskered concept that fathers are pathologically inept at dealing with babies. Of course, we all know that changing a diaper or opening a bottle of baby powder is akin to rocket science where clueless-boob dads are concerned. Good Lord, we ought to know that by now, since Hollywood has been peddling this load of clams ever since Biograph started cranking out one-reel movies around 1908. And not much has changed in the intervening years, except that now it's acceptable to depict dumb ol' dad getting a face full of baby urine. Whether or not this indicates how far civilization has progressed in 90-odd years is a personal call.
All this knee-slapping cleverness to one side, there's more plot here than you can shake a stick at. Eddie Griffin (The New Guy), Anthony Anderson (Barbershop) and Michael Imperioli (TV's The Sopranos) play three card-carrying losers: Lonnie, G, and Dominic. Lonnie (Griffin) is a classic nerd whose goal in life is to be an inventor -- and what binds him to the other two (apart from the script) is anybody's guess. G (Anderson) works in a convenience store/fast-food emporium belonging to his girlfriend's father, but spends most of his time trying to be a prizefighter. Dominic (Imperioli) is some kind of fringe record producer trying to turn a pair of white rappers (Jason and Randy Sklar, TV's Late Friday) into hip-hop stars (didn't Taye Diggs do this last year in Brown Sugar?). The boys are so unsuccessful that they've been living with -- and off -- one of their uncles (a slumming John Amos).
Since these jokers do everything together, I suppose it's only reasonable that they'd all three impregnate their respective girlfriends (or quick fling in Dominic's case) on the same night (there's an ocean of subtext here for anyone who wants to wade through it) and have babies on the same day. It's here that the plot and its various subplots really kick in. I'm not sure that there has ever been a movie in the entire history of film that has so much plot and yet feels so completely plotless, though I suspect that's merely the result of the overfamiliarity of every aspect of what happens here.
It doesn't help that all of the story is an excuse for a witless barrage of gags, most of which center on the bodily functions of babies or the racial humor we're meant to find in Asian characters being given names like "Ding Long" and "Grandpa Bling Bling." Actually, Grandpa Bling Bling provides the movie with one of its few solid laughs when ex-con No Good (Method Man) is invited to dinner with the Asian family and remarks, "This is the first time I've had dinner in two years and didn't have to worry about being shanked," only to have Grandpa mutter, "Don't be so sure."
There's also an amusing bit where Dominic's rappers sign a contract with a bad-ass gangsta record executive ("Tiny" Lister) where the contract merely consists of "Don't f**k with me." These things, however, are pretty much lost in a sea of trite, offensive or downright peculiar gags.
High on the offense-o-meter (apart from the standard, unfunny make-fun-of-Asians rubbish) is the plot development where all Dominic needs to do to win back the affections of his one-night-stand lesbian conquest is to evidence more interest in his baby, thereby apparently turning her straight.
And for downright peculiar and offensive, there's the frankly creepy business of the talking babies -- complete with obviously adult mouths superimposed on their faces. This looked bad in the trailer ("Kiss her fool!"), but is much worse in the film, where it includes the female baby indulging in lewd, Gene Simmons-esque tongue action, and talking about how "fine" her mother's "chocolate-milk sacks" (I didn't write it!) are.
Well, when one of the writers is nicknamed "Coke," I guess you have to expect that. But that still doesn't mean you need to be subjected to it.
-- reviewed by Ken Hanke