Nine Months (1995) / Comedy
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for language and sexual innuendo Running Time: 103 min.
Cast: Hugh Grant, Julianne Moore, Tom Arnold, Joan Cusack, Robin Williams, Jeff Goldblum
Director: Chris Columbus
Screenplay: Chris Columbus
Nine Months is a remake of a French farce from the year before, Patrick Brauode's Neuf Mois, which probably explains why the film tries so desperately to play every joke so over the top, with every character screaming their lines while engaging in prat falls and slapstick galore. What might work in French comedies just doesn't for American audiences, as the tastes and sensibilities are different, and therefore the humor is as well. Writer-director Chris Columbus scored big at the box office with Home Alone and Home Alone 2, but failed to realize that falling on one's ass might spark eruptions of giggles amongst the kiddies, but it's going to take a lot more than that to please the much older audience that is likely to watch a film about pregnancy.
Hugh Grant, in the news at the time of release for his indiscretions with a prostitute, plays a child psychologist, Samuel Faulkner. Samuel has been going out with Rebecca (Julianne Moore) for five years and although things have been perfect in their relationship, the biological clock is ticking louder for her, and talk of having a baby isn't exactly music to Samuel's ears after dealing with the brats he does all day long. Despite practicing birth control, Rebecca becomes pregnant anyway, and tensions begin to mount between the formerly perfect couple, but Samuel resolves to do his best as long as things don't change in the relationship. They do, and he grows increasingly unhappy, and the rift between them grows larger as the day of birth grows closer.
Nine Months is a very broad farcical comedy, and although it tries to play the tender side a bit, especially near the end, it frequently wallows in tasteless sexual innuendo and bouts of violence for much of its humor. For a film that probably doesn't have much appeal for younger viewers, it is surprisingly juvenile in its approach, not once allowing a moment of maturity to enter the mix, even if at its core it is about a man coming to grips with fatherhood.
The main problem with Nine Months is that for much of the running time, it isn't especially amusing. Sure, Robin Williams hams it up in a mostly ad-libbed performance, but we've seen him do this shtick so many times before, we expect no less from him. Tom Arnold is an actor with very limited ability, excelling in the scenes which call for him to be obtusely annoying, yet is painful to watch when attempting to be reasonable or consoling. Julianne Moore pulls off a great birth scene, but is mostly wasted in a role which is underwritten and requires little of her than to be sweet but needy. If you're the kind of person that finds Hugh Grant annoying, steer clear at all costs, as he is in full "ham" mode here, showing little of the man underneath the boyish nervousness that he has successfully turned into a career in late films.
Nine Months never lives up to the potential of its cast and creator, all of whom have shown they can do much better. It's really Chris Columbus that botches this one, delving too much into crassness for meager chuckles, while playing the film extremely too conventional to keep one's interest otherwise. Recommended only for those who find the even the most trite of slapstick to be uproarious entertainment.
© 2003 Vince Leo