Having a baby is an overwhelming life change. Of course, I’m stating the obvious here, but it is the inciting idea behind the plot of Babysplitters, in which two couples who are divided on their intentions to have a child get together and decide that if the four of them have one baby together, then the burden might not be quite so life-changing.
That right there is a pretty great setup for a comedy. There’s plenty of room for hi-jinx as the four people make the decisions that two normally would, as double the normal number of values and undisclosed religious backgrounds and other exiting biases and expectations clash together.
Add a great cast, and you have a hell of a movie. Luckily, this movie has that too, with Danny Pudi (Community) and Emily Chang in the lead roles. Together they enjoy easy and sincere chemistry as a married couple at odds over whether to have a child (she wants one, he’s not so sure). Once they learn that their best friends (Maiara Walsh and Eddie Alfano) are in the same boat (but with the roles switched), the plot and hi-jinx ensue. But also it’s where the film’s problems begin.
There are a few really funny sequences in Babysplitters, one where they debate the order in which their child’s hyphenated last name will go is one. The scene where they actually attempt to get pregnant, not through any kind of medical intervention but by the old fashioned way between the husband from one couple and the wife from another, while their spouses watch, ratchets the awkwardness and anxiety of their situation pretty expertly.
The issue is that there is far too much between the actual funny bits of the movie. Babysplitters is two hours long, but it feels like there’s a perfectly serviceable ninety-minute film’s worth of material. Some entire scenes and subplots have no real bearing on the story or characters development, or if they do have an effect, there’s far too much preamble. There’s one in particular that is actually pretty funny, as Danny Pudi has to navigate a back yard full of small children with water guns, and would actually make a pretty great 5 minute short film by itself, but doesn’t need to be in the movie.
Let me take a moment here to single out Danny Pudi for a moment here, it’s easy to remember only his weirder roles or his long stint on Community, but his performance here is very sincere and grounded, and I kind of can’t wait to see him take on more roles like this one. Emily C. Chang is similarly great, and I expect to see her in romcoms like this one on a regular basis moving forward.
So there it is. Babysplitters has some funny moments and a great lead performance but what should be a great 90-minute movie headed to Netflix is currently an overlong 2-hour movie that … well, it’ll probably end up on Netflix or something similar too, honestly.
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