The wheel in the sky keeps on turnin’. The wheel being the creative minds at the MILF. Two months ago the vault inducted Saved! into its hallowed halls. Comments on that review sparked Kai to generate a list of his Top 5 Pregnancy Films. Landing on his list is the Hugh Grant-Julianne Moore film, Nine Months, a rom-com I had never experienced. If I had to guess, in 1995 I instead chose to enjoy Julianne Moore starring alongside Sylvester Stallone and Antonio Banderas in Assassins. With the vault continuing to cover all things baby, it seemed the perfect time to finally get around to watching Nine Months.
Samuel Faulkner (Hugh Grant) and Rebecca Taylor (Julianne Moore) are enjoying another day of non-wedded bliss with a picnic at the beach when Samuel’s blindsided by Rebecca’s marital desires and then by the Dwyers’ kite. Marty Dwyer (Tom Arnold), his wife Gail (Joan Cusack), their three girls, and their dog rush over to apologize for their interruption, but succeed only in cementing Samuel’s desire not to become a breeder such as them. Soon after fate intervenes and Rebecca discovers she’s pregnant. Averse to the idea of marriage and fatherhood, Samuel has to come to terms with his rapidly changing life before his baby is full term.
Based on the French film, Neuf mois, Nine Months was remade for American audiences by writer-director Chris Columbus. Nine Months is significant for being Hugh Grant’s first Hollywood feature, and for benefiting from the publicity of Grant’s scandal with Divine Brown which occurred just weeks prior to release. Grant’s Samuel is clueless to the emotional hurt he is inflicting on Rebecca with his self-absorbed nature and unwillingness to change. Grant gives Samuel added complexity by convincingly portraying him as being unequivocally in love with Rebecca. The question isn’t his devotion to her, just his readiness to be the a husband and father. Basically, he’s a confused ass, but still worthy of redemption.
Not that the character of Samuel needed to be that intricate. Moore’s Rebecca isn’t given anywhere near the same level of development. Few actresses can communicate emotional duress like Moore, but she’s given little chance to do so. She’s an underdeveloped character; she’s shown teaching ballet once before quitting to be pregnant. Nine Months may be about having a baby, but it’s got nothing to do with mommy.
Nine Months has two things going for it: strong supporting characters and slapstick comedy. I could have used a lot less of the latter and more of the former. Jeff Goldblum portrays Samuel’s best friend, Sean, a struggling artist and lothario whose words of wisdom are sometimes helpful and always hilarious. Goldblum’s antics take a back seat to Robin Williams’ Dr. Kosevich. Kosevich is a Russian immigrant and former veterinarian, newly licensed in America to deliver human babies. Williams, with his bungling, timid demeanor and his constant malapropisms (like confusing an enema for epidural), steals the show. I could have watched an entire film following the antics of Dr. Kosevich, but Nine Months only provides a few scenes to enjoy him.
The slapstick in Nine Months is puerile filler in an otherwise heartfelt film. Watching Tom Arnold and Hugh Grant throw down with a man in a dinosaur suit is tired and Grant’s continually interrupted race to the hospital is reminiscent of a farcical escapade one might see in a foreign show or film, but it is missing the je ne sais quoi that makes those same foreign films so enjoyable.
Had I seen Nine Months seventeen years ago, I may have gotten a more out of it. Seeing it now makes me yearn to watch more of the eccentric Goldblum, to laugh along with Robin Williams’ antics, and experience Julianne’s richer characters. At least that’s something, even if that wasn’t its intent.