What happens when a straight woman and her gay best friend decide to have a baby together? Well, if you’re unlucky, you get a movie with Madonna and Rupert Everett or those couple of unfunny episodes of Will & Grace. Luckily, Gayby knows better than to follow in those footsteps. After all, it’s 2012. The scandal or the novelty of the act has finally worn off by now. Well, maybe not in rural Mississippi or some of the Bible Belt, but the idea of a gay man and a straight woman having a baby together? It’s hardly breaking news. That might be one of the issues with Gayby.
The film acts as if it is taking this bold stance and providing some wacky, unheard-of scenario when it pairs straight and unlucky in love, Jenn with her gay best friend Matt. It should know that it isn’t. In fact, the movie plays out in a very by-the-numbers kind of way. First, we have the original idea, followed by the awkward stops and starts of a gay man trying to introduce his penis into a woman’s vagina (pause for laugh) and then they finally get pregnant. The plot progression is fairly apparent for anybody that remembers the baby run on Will & Grace or for anyone that has watched a standard sitcom at all. That’s honestly what Gayby feels like, is an elongated sitcom.
Unfortunately, this means that Gayby is complete with some of the unbearable trappings of the sitcom. Most obvious is the supporting cast, mainly writer/director Jonathan Lisecki as the unbearably obnoxious Nelson. As a gay man, it’s hard to deny that people like Nelson exist in the gay world. He’s loud, he’s crass, and he’s full of unfunny puns and unsolicited opinions. In fact, there are too many Nelsons in the world as it is, so forcing that character into Gayby, while accurate, is just unnecessary. Yes, Nelson is true to life, but he’s the kind of guy you already see at the bars on a Friday night, so to force the audience to spend time with him in a booze-free setting just seems spiteful.
However, to deride Gayby as formulaic, although it is, or to chastise its supporting cast for being annoying, which they are, is to ignore some of its many charms. Ultimately, I didn’t find myself caring that I knew the obvious direction the film was going to take by the end of the opening credits. Gayby beguiles you with its charms that make the predictability entirely forgivable. Although geared towards a gay audience, the true star of the movie is Jenn Harris, whose role of Jenn is both effervescent and sardonic. She never seems over-the-top in the role, but rather, very grounded in her self-deprecating humor. The chemistry between her and Matthew Wilkas is unquestionably the driving force of the movie. The two have such an ease around one another that makes their history together truly believable.
In the end, Gayby is a bizarre phenomenon. Safe humor that could have drifted into the uninspired, instead has a nonchalant charm about it. Although the supporting cast leaves something to be desired, Gayby plays to its strengths and spends most of its time with Jenn and/or Matt. Honestly, everything about this film I should hate, but the two leads make the whole thing bearable.
Gayby will be released on DVD on December 11, 2012. Along with the feature film, the DVD has the original short that inspired the feature, along with several trailers and an audio commentary track.