It’s the stuff of sitcom gold: girl and guy want baby, but they don’t want each other. Gayby is strikingly similar to a Will and Grace plotline that never materialized, following a pair of best friends aware that their time for parenting might soon pass them by. Jenn (Jenn Harris) is thankfully not as neurotic as Grace, but she is equally self-deprecating. She suffers under her overbearing boss at work and has no luck choosing male partners. Her best friend, Matt (Matthew Wilkas) is a sweet comic book nerd who also has no luck finding a male partner after an excruciatingly difficult breakup. Their unfortunate circumstances, they concur, should not keep them from having a child—what a friend of theirs soon dubs a “gayby.”
Other than the standard rom-com misfortunes of relationship misadventures, the charm that Gayby offers is what happens when a man and woman don’t find each other sexually attractive but still want to have a baby. The failed conception scene is full of awkward pauses and do-overs that culminate in a “it just isn’t going to work.” Then there’s also the tricky question of aphrodisiacs and timing it to the fertility cycle that allows the movie to stretch beyond the original short upon which it was based.
The centerpiece gag of the movie, conceiving the “old-fashioned way,” provides a decent amount of laughs. However, once they try other alternatives, the results are tepid at best. Unfortunately, the solution to conceive a “gayby” is too easily reached, somewhat unsatisfying and likely improbable. The cast still maintins the charade well, and even director Jonathan Lisecki has a hilarious cameo as a not-so-kind friend. The production feels a tad amateurish, as this is Lisecki’s first film. Perhaps like any baby, it is a promise of things to come.
The good in Gayby easily outweighs the awkward staging and strained gags. The snappy dialog harkens back to a ’30s screwball comedy, while the relatable characters keep the movie from playing merely as a Hawksian homage. Most of the time, it’s striking just how realistically the characters act around each other. It’s only when a witty side character enters to share insightful knowledge that it feels more like a movie than a group of friends dealing with a problem.
Ultimately, it’s the friendship between the two lead characters—a real one according to Lisecki —that comes across more strongly than the central “baby lust” premise. With so much of Lisecki’s life—his friends, their apartment, the premise of the movie—sowed into Gayby, it will be interesting to see what he conceives of next.
Directors: Jonathan Lisecki
Writers: Jonathan Lisecki
Starring: Jenn Harris, Matthew Wilkas, Mike Doyle
Release Date: Oct. 12, 2012