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Sunday, 20 November 2016

Retro Review: Nine Months (1995)

Nine Months
Cast: Hugh Grant, Julianne Moore, Robin Williams, Tom Arnold, Joan Cusack, Jeff Goldblum 
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $138 million

Plot: When successful child psychologist and one-time Playboy Samuel Faulkner hears that his girlfriend, Rebecca is pregnant, he panics. As Faulkner's crippling fear of commitment sets in, Rebecca decides to leave him. Realising he wants to spend his life with her Faulkner struggles to come to terms with the gravity of impending fatherhood - a struggle helped in no way by the antics of Rebecca's bumbling obstetrician, Eastern - Bloc refugee, Dr Kosevich 

'A Terrible Mismatch & Lack Of Balance In Humour & Drama Kills All Hope For This Film'

With US remakes of The Birdcage and Fathers' Day, comes along another comedy titled: Nine Months, based on another French movie titled, Neuf Mois. Released in the mid-1990s, Nine Months stars Hugh Grant, who having made a huge impact through his breakthrough rom-com effort, Richard Curtis's Four Weddings & A Funeral, the year before, made his Stateside leading man debut in this so-called screwball comedy, directed by Chris Columbus. Columbus as many of you will know, directed big hitters such as Home Alone and Mrs Doubtfire. Speaking of Mrs Doubtfire, Nine Months also sees the return of Robin Williams working alongside Columbus, though this time as a supporting cast member. They also collaborated on (the dreadful) Bicentennial Man later on in 1999. 

Nine Months sees British actor, Hugh Grant as Samuel: a self-absorbed child therapist, who isn't too keen on getting married and is happily content with things as they are. He doesn't take to children that well either, and yet goes into a state of panic when dance instructor & girlfriend, Rebecca announces she is pregnant with their first child. Samuel's fears are further compounded after meeting up with a couple played by Tom Arnold and Joan Cusack & their unruly children. 

Though it is billed as a romantic comedy, it is not an out and out rom-com, but it operates more so along the lines of a screwball comedy. I say screwball comedy because, with romcoms, the humour is not 'hahaha' funny, whereas screwball comedies are on the lines of 'hahaha' funny. The film wastes no time throwing in a few silly slapstick scenes (one being Tom Arnold & Hugh Grant trying to beat up a foul-mouthed mascot in a children's store) and 1 or 2 dream sequences, whilst also balancing this out with some sentimentality and poignant moments. 

I've never really taken to Hugh Grant in his other movies, and whilst here he sort of plays the same type of bumbling, lovable loser protagonist role as he did in Notting Hill, Four Weddings & A Funeral and Mickey Blue Eyes, he did okay, although I still found his character to be a stuck-up, arrogant douche. This film was also released in the same year of his embarrassing arrest, after being caught with a prostitute that made the headlines and thus, this had slightly dented his clean-cut image as a celebrity.  

Nevertheless, unfortunately, though the premise for Nine Months is interesting in a way, the script in this film is over-killed, uneven and dragged out through some scenes and lines that are supposed to come across as amusing, but aren't & are incredibly bland. 

As for Hugh Grant and Julianne Moore, I had a hard time buying them as their respective characters in this film: comedy isn't Moore's forte and she did better with the dramatic and emotional aspects of this movie, more so than the comedic aspects, whereas in watching Grant though he was all right, he seemed anxious; that, and his role as an expectant father just didn't fly as well as it should have. It didn't help that he wasn't given much good material to work with. Plus, there is no real sense of connection with those two as a couple. Additionally, Tom Arnold was painfully unfunny. 

The comedy works - in places that is. With an interesting cast at its disposal, I expected this to be a full-on, highly amusing screwball comedy, and yet, arguably the main highlight is Robin Williams. Yes, his character, the occasionally bashful - yet offbeat, Dr Kosevich, will drive you insane or annoy you especially with that fake accent, but he is also one that raises a few smiles and of whom makes it more interesting to watch, more so than for Hugh Grant and co. Yet he doesn't appear until after the 30th-minute mark. Robin is worth watching the movie alone; some of the lines he says are amusing and his scenes are hilarious. In one scene Kosevich says to Rebecca, ''you have a small pussy'', only to make cat impressions. His Russian doctor character sounded like his character, Vladimir in Moscow On The Hudson but of whom mispronounces certain terms, done unintentionally to evoke laughter. 

This film would have been better and even funnier, had this film been the other way round and was centred on Dr Kosevich as the main character and his crazy attempts at delivering the baby, with Sam and Rebecca as secondary characters. Much better that way. But sadly, Grant and co. are strained with such a boring, flaccid and weak script - and a weak script is just not good enough. Especially for a comedy. This is a missed opportunity for Chris Columbus, but more so the writers where that balance of comedy with the sentimental and emotional parts, just wasn't there throughout. & the use of rom-com tropes is done in an uninviting way that I didn't care for Rebecca and Sam coming together. 

Although the last 20 mins on their mad dash to and during at the hospital were entertaining and highly amusing when chaos breaks out. It's a shame these comedic scenes didn't occur during the vast majority of the movie. As a screwball comedy, there wasn't more of the humour. The movie did tie up events nicely, but by then it was too little too late.

Final Verdict:

Unlike The Adventures in Babysitting, Mrs Doubtfire and Home Alone, this is a poor comedic effort from Chris Columbus that is nowhere near the level of those movies, - but that this is a real disappointment in more ways than one and it's not surprising that it isn't talked about a lot, because, in one's retrospective look, it is a letdown and not up to par as one would normally expect from Columbus. 

Sporadically amusing at times and though it wears its heart on its sleeve, this screwball comedy tries to be funny as well, but nine times out of ten, it is inconsistent and fails in this department, whilst the rest of the narrative isn't that wholly interesting to sit through. One would easily find themselves sleeping through the sentimental parts and not miss very much of this film - & it still wouldn't make a difference to it. Robin Williams is clearly wasted, well, make that every main cast member, but for Tom Arnold, was wasted - and in truth, it should have been him, rather than Hugh Grant as his character, as the main lead instead, but Robin is also only worth seeing for his supporting appearance, alone. That is if you are a fan of his humour. 

Yet that mismatch of comedy and dramatic elements is what killed this film and spoiled any potential of it being better and much funnier as it ought to have been. Couple that with a mundane script and Nine Months isn't that great.

Had it not been for Robin Williams and the slapstick scenes, this film would have been completely and instantly forgettable. & even worse.


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