out of Five
Running time: 83
Superbly written, frequently hilarious and brilliantly acted by a note-perfect cast, this is a hugely entertaining black comedy that has an unexpectedly warm heart.
What's it all about?
Written and directed by Chris D'Arienzo, Barry Munday is based on the novel “Life Is A Strange Place” by Frank Turner Hollon and stars Patrick Wilson as Barry Munday, a libido-driven wage slave who spends all his time either ogling, fantasising about or trying to pick up women. However, after a freak attack by an outraged father wielding a trumpet, Barry wakes up in hospital to find that his testicles have been removed.
As if losing the family jewels wasn't bad enough. Barry gets a further shock when he's hit with a paternity lawsuit by frumpy, bespectacled Ginger Farley (Judy Greer), a woman he can't remember having sex with. Secretly thrilled that the Munday line might not end with him after all, Barry attempts to step up to his responsibilities with Ginger, though he finds it an uphill struggle when he meets her family (Malcolm McDowell, Cybill Shepherd and Chloe Sevigny), particularly when, right before meeting them for the first time, Ginger informs him that she's told them that he drugged her and had sex with her while she was unconscious.
Patrick Wilson is brilliant as Barry, delivering a warm-hearted, vanity-free performance that ensures the character remains likeable even when he's being an idiot. Judy Greer (finally graduating to female leads after an eternity of wisecracking best friend-type parts) is equally good as Ginger and the film also boasts a terrific supporting cast that includes Chloe Sevigny (as Ginger's seemingly perfect sister Jennifer), Jean Smart (as Barry's mother), Billy Dee Williams (i.e. old Lando Calrissian himself) as Barry's boss Lonnie and Cybill Shepherd and Malcolm McDowell as Ginger's parents.
The script is excellent: the dialogue crackles with funny lines and there are several laugh-out-loud moments. Highlights include: Barry unable to stifle his giggles during a genital mutilation support group; Barry committing a pretty serious faux pas during sex; and pretty much every second that Billy Dee Williams is on screen (he drives a DeLorean, for God's sake).
D'Arienzo's skilful direction gets the tone exactly right, expertly blending pitch black comedy with bittersweet moments that reveal a surprisingly warm heart.
Barry Munday is a hugely enjoyable black comedy with terrific performances from a wonderful comic cast. Highly recommended.