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Barry Munday (2010) ***

September 30, 2010

written by: Chris D’Arienzo
produced by: Mickey Barold, Stone Douglass, Eric Kopeloff & Matt Weaver
directed by: Chris D’Arienzo
rated R (for sexual content and language)
94 min.
U.S. release dates: August 27, 2010 (VoD, Xbox Live and iTunes) & October 1, 2010 (limited)

Sometimes a movie just piques your curiosity and you get the feeling you just have to check it out. Well, at least I get that feeling. That’s how I felt when I read the premise for “Barry Munday”, an indie comedy about a seemingly average guy who loses his testicles and has to come to terms with who he is, what it means to be a man and fatherhood. It sounds like it could be deep if it was a drama, maybe even a little as a comedy. While it thankfully doesn’t delve too much into a statement on manhood, it does offer up some things most comedies today lack, like genuine laughs, characters that you could find in real life and an assembly of actors you would never imagine together.

Barry Munday (Patrick Wilson, “Hard Candy” & “Little Children”) is that douchey guy at the office who is always checking out woman. He’s that good enough-looking guy who hits on anyone, going more for quantity over quality. While he is in a dating relationship (the great Missi Pyle), the concept of monogamy is foreign for this sex-obsessed cad as he frequents the local TGI Fridays ripoff, Snatchers (what a name!) at Happy Hour for anyone who will give him even a glimpse.

He’s not necessarily a jerk, there’s an indication of sweetness there, he’s just so awkward and insecure that he winds up fronting a persona of a ladies man. Unfortunately, he’s about to get hit with a painful message, the kind that will probably be the only thing that will force him to reaccess his shallow ways.

One day, while Barry is ogling girls outside the local movie theater, she meets a girl who smiles back. Bing! She may be too young, but hey, why refuse reciprocity? Her name is Candice (Mae Whitman) and Barry find himself taking in a movie with and then next thing he knows he awakens on an ER gurney. With both a doctor and his mother (the wonderful, Jean Smart) hovering over him, he learns that his boys are gone. He lifts his bed sheet to confirm….Ouch! What happened? Barry wants to know too.

Judy Greer and Patrick Wilson in 'Barry Munday'

To rattle his world even more, Barry gets slapped with a paternity suit from a woman he doesn’t even remember. Ginger Farley (Judy Greer, “13 Going on 30” & “The Village”) is an unpleasant, frumpy-looking random past Snatchers encounter. While this kind of news would make any other guy freak, Barry sees it as a miraculous sign. Given his condition, he knew producing any offspring if his own would not be in his future, but now it appears his Lothario ways have given him an opportunity to step up to the plate and examine his ways.

He still may be a bit of an immature dim bulb, but he does prove to Ginger that he plans on being hands-on even if she regrets ever getting drunk enough to allow him near her that fateful night. They both start to learn that they may have more in common than just their baby, as Barry’s transformation begins to break down Ginger’s sour exterior.

The whole concept seems like a pitch for any random Fox sitcom and it would’ve been, if not for the talents of the two leads. Both Wilson and Greer have already developed quite a varied filmography and so it’s no surprise to see they have the chops to pull off a fun and funny comedy. While they do elicit laughs, they also conjure enough characterization for viewers to actually sympathize with these silly roles. We laugh because we know people like them and are endeared by their quirks, regardless of how awful they treat others.

It’s always great when you get the idea that the actors involved are having fun and the supporting cast here is clearly having a blast. We get an idea why Ginger is a little off when we meet her family. Her flirty, younger sister Jennifer (Chloe Sevigny) is a polar opposite and provides Barry with plenty of uncomfortable moments. And then there’s Ginger’s parents (hilariously played by Cybill Shepherd and Malcolm McDowell, go ahead, read that again!) in their matching outfits. Seeing their families interact at the dinner table is an absolute riot.

Adding another surprise veteran appearance is by Billy Dee Williams as Barry’s boss. Just take all those actors in and you’ll see why I had such a fun time seeing this story unfold. Seeing him trade laughs with McDowell, knowing the roles fanboys they are famous for was a treat in and of itself. Rounding out the cast are some fun bit parts by Shea Wingham as Barry’s equally out-of-touch with the opposite sex friend and Christopher McDonald as a support counselor.

Based on Frank Turner Holland’s book Life is a Strange Place, writer/director Chris D’Arienzo transcends bland stereotypes and gives the movie clever dialogue and irreverent tone. He certainly has the benefit of working with some strong females here. The movie premiered at this year’s SXSW in Austin, where it received a little buzz and will probably see a limited theatrical release before it gets noticed on DVD. “Barry Munday” isn’t a movie you absolutely have to see and it may be hard to find, but it is a fun time, delivering some genuine laughs provided by an unlikely cast.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. marck permalink
    October 31, 2011 11:36 am

    This movie was definitely off the normal path of other comedies that come out these days, but totally worth the time to check it out.


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