My Baby’s Daddy

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“My Baby’s Daddy” did not come about because someone had an idea for a story. It came about because someone had an idea for a situation. The difference is vital. A story has an ongoing progression of plot, events, and character development. A situation is merely a set of circumstances, a moment frozen in time. An interesting situation can certainly lead to a good story, but you still have to write the story. It’s not just going to happen on its own.

The situation in “My Baby’s Daddy” is that three life-long friends in Philadelphia find that their respective girlfriends have become pregnant, followed nine months later by births all on the same day. These are bachelors, carefree and relatively young, suddenly thrust into fatherhood. The comedy practically writes itself!

Or so you’d think, and so the four writers credited to “My Baby’s Daddy” seemed to think. But comedy does not write itself, and “My Baby’s Daddy,” while possessed of a promising situation, barely establishes a story to go with it. The men do their daddy duties with varying degrees of success and bumbling … but then what? Then nothing. The movie has no idea what to do with its premise, so instead it churns out scene after scene of tired slapstick.

Anthony Anderson, making his 14th film appearance so far this century, plays G, a would-be boxer who works at a mini-market owned by the family of his Chinese girlfriend Xi-Xi (Bai Ling). Lonnie (Eddie Griffin) is a nerdy would-be inventor with big glasses whose crass, vulgar girlfriend Rolanda (Paula Jai Parker) treats him like dirt. Dom (Michael Imperioli), the white guy of the group, is a music producer with a casual relationship with Nia (Joanna Bacalso).

Eddie Griffin is singularly irritating and unfunny as Lonnie, a cartoonish imbecile whose dork-to-cool makeover comprises one of the film’s many senseless tangents. (Why make him nerdy if you’re just going to change him 20 minutes into the film?) His two co-stars, working from good will earned in other roles, are likable enough.

There’s just so little for any of them to do. The jokes are so old and stolen they’re embarrassing. For example, G expresses amazement upon the birth of his son at how well-endowed the boy is, only to be told that’s the umbilical cord. Trouble is, I can recall the same gag being used in specific episodes of “The Simpsons,” “Family Guy,” “The Golden Girls,” and “Saturday Night Live.” And did we need to see yet another person fall victim to a baby boy’s geyser-like peeing while changing the lad’s diaper? Can we just let that joke die?

This movie has a lot of farting, too, and none of it comes from the babies. When you have a movie full of babies and you’re still resorting to gags about ADULTS breaking wind, well, that’s when it’s time to give up.

D (1 hr., 31 min.; PG-13, a lot of profanity, some sexuality, a lot of crude humor.)

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