Barry Munday (Patrick Wilson) wakes up in a hospital one day, six hours after he was last awake. He’s told that they couldn’t be saved. He questions who “they” are. and then learns the horrible truth: His testicles are gone. For a man whose life revolves around charming and “conquering” women, this is the worst possible thing that could happen. How did he lose them? Someone walked into a movie theater with a trumpet and … that’s all he can remember. Trauma can impair memory.
It turns out that before this incident, Barry was involved with a woman named Ginger (Judy Greer). She is now pregnant, and is wanting him to pay child support and whatnot. He doesn’t actually remember their one night stand, but with this new news, he decides to actually step up and act like a real father. And yet, she doesn’t want him to. Actually, I don’t know what she wants at all. After they meet, she says she doesn’t want his money. Whatever. There’s a kid on the way, and we’re going to have to go through a romantic comedy in order for everything to clear itself up.
The whole “no more testicles” angle doesn’t really play into things after its opening. Maybe that event made him want to become more of a good person, but that correlation isn’t actually made. Missed opportunity is essentially the basic theme of this movie, as it brings up a lot of plot points that don’t ever lead to anything. Take Ginger’s sister, Jennifer (Chloë Sevigny), who may or may not work as a stripper, and also may or may not want to hook up with Barry. There’s one scene that takes place at a dinner table that makes absolutely no sense, where all of that comes up. And yet, before that, there was no real tension between them, nor is there any afterward.
The same type of scenario comes from the inevitable “meet the parents” subplot. At one point, Ginger tells Barry that her parents want to meet him. He has no problem with it, although she warns him that they hate him. This doesn’t actually end up being the case, as they treat him just fine — apart from initially acting intimidating for no reason. It then hit me: This must all be taking place in Barry’s mind, as he’s really in a coma after being hit with the trumpet. I hate that cliché, but that’s how I’m taking Barry Munday. It makes the random actions make more sense, and also explains how everything happens so easily and quickly.
The film doesn’t bring that up, and it’s by my own insanity that I choose to interpret it this way. There isn’t even a hint that these events aren’t really happening within this movie. It does make a certain degree of sense, though, doesn’t it? Characters act bizarrely, plot points are brought up and forgotten about with regularity, and it is all told in a fairly standard rom-com format. You’re not going to be surprised by anything here, just as if it was being written by an Average Joe movie character.
I was initially going to say here that I mean no slight against the writers with that comment, but I suppose the truth is that I do. For a film with such a screwball mentality to wind up being formulaic, something went wrong. Maybe the director had something to do with that as well, as he doesn’t present us with anything fresh, but the situations themselves aren’t interesting or unique. Ostensibly, this is a film for men (the main character is a womanizing everyman, breasts are his, and therefore our, main focus, and the comedy is more raunchy than one might expect).
This, however, isn’t the direction that the film takes. Our womanizer turns into someone trying to be the best father in the world, after he loses his testicles (really early on), he no longer seems to even care about the opposite sex, and while the comedy is kind of raunchy, it’s surrounded by your standard romantic comedy tropes. You mostly just watch these two characters bond through familiar circumstances, leading up to the upcoming birth of their child. They fight, they don’t fight; it really doesn’t matter in the end what they do.
If there’s a reason to watch Barry Munday, it’s for the cast and not for anything else. I’ve always admired Patrick Wilson, although I don’t think he’s a great fit in this type of comedy. Despite that, he works in the role because he plays everything straight instead of succumbing to the jokes. Judy Greer’s socially awkward, yet very hateful, Ginger is effective when she steers clear of the generic female character, which is most of the time. I really enjoyed Malcolm McDowell as Ginger’s father and Colin Hanks as Barry’s (irrelevant) only friend. While I liked Hanks’ character (he’s a semi-professional air-guitar player), his purpose is limited, never actually being used to do anything of interest or purpose apart from making us laugh at how pathetic he (and by extension, Barry) is.
Ultimately, Barry Munday is a failure because it doesn’t add up to anything. It contains a couple of funny moments, but since it makes little sense, the characters act without purpose, it appears that it wasn’t edited with care, and it didn’t take the direction it needed to in order to be successful, it’s really difficult to recommend it. The cast, despite the poorly written characters and situations they’re given, does an admirable job. There are just so many points that left me wondering what reason there was, despite the fact that most of the film is as formulaic as they come.