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USA Home Video presents
Maybe Baby (2000)

"Sperm is like flatulence, it is different when it is your own."
- George (Adrian Lester)

Review By: Kevin Clemons   
Published: April 17, 2002

Stars: Hugh Laurie, Joely Richardson
Other Stars: Emma Thompson, Adrian Lester, James Purefoy, Rowan Atkinson, Joanna Lumley, Dawn French, Tom Hollander
Director: Ben Elton

Manufacturer: DVDL
MPAA Rating: R for sexual content and language
Run Time: 01h:44m:06s
Release Date: April 09, 2002
UPC: 696306024521
Genre: comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B- C+B+B D+

DVD Review

Conventional wisdom says that when showing a couple trying desperately, without luck, to conceive a child, it is likely not the best idea to play the situation for laughs. After all, what humor can possibly come from a couple's inability to have a child and start a family? This slap in the face of conventional thinking is the least thing wrong with writer/director Ben Elton's Maybe Baby, a whimsical sex farce that can't make up in silly comedic situations what it lacks in emotional and character development.

Sam (Laurie) and Lucy Bell (Richardson) are a successful married couple living a life of luxury. He works at the BBC and is a gifted screenwriter, though lately a case of writer's block has put his job in danger, thanks to his new boss. Lucy works at a talent agency where her love of Shakespeare is not shared by those around her, but is by a handsome new client who may also have feelings for her. As if these problems weren't enough, the two want desperately to have a child, and are not successful due to numerous causes. When it looks as though in vitro fertilization may be the only alternative, the two begin a process that will bring them closer together and test not only their faith, but also their marriage.

If only this were the central plot of Maybe Baby, things may have worked out better. Instead, we are treated to a silly sub plot about Sam's slump and his brilliant idea to write a script focusing on an infertile couple and their struggles in trying to conceive with comedic results. Other distractions include a loudmouth Scottish film director (Hollander), a gruff Australian nurse (French), and a freakishly demented gynecologist (Atkinson).

Based on Elton's semi-autobiographical novel, Inconceivable, Maybe Baby suffers by missing a golden opportunity to be something special, or at least memorable. In the production notes Elton states that "the fiction is fueled by the feelings and reality of my life," but strangely his screenplay seems to be lacking the feelings that would help make it a bit more realistic. The scenes focusing on the IVF treatments give Maybe Baby a strong emotional center, but just when I found myself connecting with the characters, the comedy pulled me away and I found myself bored and disinterested.

While the structure of the story is questionable, Elton's ability with words is terrific at times. Elton, who is best known for his work on Britain's Blackadder and The Young Onesconstructs nice and at times witty dialogue that deserves to be in a better film. The conversations may not always feel real given the characters and situations, but they work none the less. One scene involving Hollander's abrasive director describing a new idea for a television comedy is absolutely brilliant and is worth renting the film if only for that scene.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about Maybe Baby was Elton's was ability to comprise a cast that many first time directors would be lucky to achieve. Richardson and Laurie are fine in the lead roles and the two have nice chemistry in their scenes together. The supporting cast, comprised of familiar faces, is uniformly perfect. The standout being Adrian Lester (whose work in Primary Colors was robbed of award consideration) as Sam's co-worker and friend. Sprinkled in throughout are cameos by Emma Thompson, Rowan Atkinson (who is superb), and Joanna Lumley. Elton certainly knows how to attract talent—what else from the man who got Paul MacCArtney to do the theme song for the film?

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer, Maybe Baby looks terrific. Colors are perfectly done with no bleeding evident and high quality black levels; a shot of London seen at night in chapter 2 is breathtaking proof. Sharpness and detail are nicely done, and I noticed very little edge enhancement. A nice transfer from USA.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Surround track for Maybe Baby is largely anchored in the center channel with little else going on in the remaining speakers. Dialogue is crisp and natural with little distortion, while the score fills up the remaining moments and sounds clean and clear in the left and right speakers.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The original trailer for Maybe Baby is included in full frame, and is accessible via static film-themed menus. Twelve chapter stops are also provided.

Extras Grade: D+


Final Comments

Maybe Baby isn't a horrible film, but the subject matter needs a stronger emotional side to balance out the comedy. Elton wants this to be a film that will make you laugh, cry, and have a renewed look on life. Unfortunately, he wants too much.


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