Maybe Baby

A good-natured comedy about two Londoners and their increasingly frantic efforts to have a child. On the surface, Sam (Hugh Laurie) and Lucy Bell (Joely Richardson) have it all. They love each other, have good friends — particularly new parents George (Adrian Lester) and Melinda (Yasmin Bannerman) — a lovely apartment and a cute dog. They have...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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A good-natured comedy about two Londoners and their increasingly frantic efforts to have a child. On the surface, Sam (Hugh Laurie) and Lucy Bell (Joely Richardson) have it all. They love each other, have good friends — particularly new parents George (Adrian Lester) and Melinda (Yasmin Bannerman) — a lovely apartment and a cute dog. They have successful careers; he as a commissioning editor at BBC-TV, she as an agent. But Sam really wants to write his own scripts and hates his pretentious new boss, Nigel (Matthew Macfadyen), who worships everything "edgy," and Lucy desperately wants a baby. Having given nature a chance to take its course, they begin trying to conceive in earnest: First they take the advice of Lucy's womynist friend Druscilla (Emma Thompson), who recommends harnessing the earth's fecundity by making love atop a mystical ley line. When that produces no results, they start timing their copulation to Lucy's ovulatory cycle. And when that fails, they submit to the humiliating ministrations of fertility experts. Meanwhile, Sam rejects a TRAINSPOTTING-like screenplay called "Sick Junkie" by edgy Scottish director Ewan Proclaimer (Tom Hollander), so Nigel busts him down to children's programming. The demotion inspires Sam to start a darkly comic screenplay about his and Lucy's reproductive follies; he continues scribbling on the sly after Lucy makes it clear that she considers the material too personal for public consumption. Neither notices that their respective preoccupations are driving them apart: Sam takes refuge in his script, while Lucy flirts with her agency's hottest client, darkly handsome actor Carl Phipps (James Purefoy). Then the BBC commits to bankrolling Sam's as-yet-uncompleted screenplay, with Ewan Proclaimer directing; how can Sam tell Lucy he's turned their private agonies into rueful entertainment? Comic mayhem ensues. Written and directed by well-known English comedy writer Ben Elton (TV's The Young Ones and Blackadder 2), this uneven farce relies heavily on its cast, and to a great degree they come through. Richardson even manages to give some depth to underwritten Lucy (ironic, that, since part of the movie's plot hinges on Sam's inability to round out the Lucy character in his screenplay), a task that would have stymied a lesser actress. Rowan Atkinson's painfully unfunny turn as an insensitive gynecologist is eclipsed by Hollander's scathingly funny portrayal of belligerent auteur Proclaimer, whose wears his pretenses with such scabby aplomb that they achieve high style.

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  • Released: 2000
  • Rating: R
  • Review: A good-natured comedy about two Londoners and their increasingly frantic efforts to have a child. On the surface, Sam (Hugh Laurie) and Lucy Bell (Joely Richardson) have it all. They love each other, have good friends — particularly new parents George… (more)

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