“Married. Home. Baby. Done.” It’s everything Zoe (Rose Matafeo) doesn’t want. The fearless arborist has a taste for adventure and nothing’s going to get in her way. Certainly not a baby. Life with long-term boyfriend Tim (Matthew Lewis) is good, so why change?
But life has a nasty habit of getting in the way of her plans in Baby Done, a fresh, sparky comedy from New Zealand. Less than enthusiastic when a pregnancy test proves positive, she’s determined it won’t change her life so she and the ever-patient Tim put together a list of all the wild and wacky things they want to do before the baby arrives. Not so much a bucket list as a nappy bucket list. And not so much their list as hers.
What looks on the surface to be a film about a prospective parent in denial is more a look at how the arrival of a baby marks the end of the parents’ previous life and starts a whole new one. That, of course, means waving goodbye – however reluctantly – to ambitions and dreams. For the time being, anyway. For Zoe, it means abandoning her plans to take part in the world tree-climbing championships. Shinning up a tree while heavily pregnant isn’t just dangerous for the baby – it comes laden with all kinds of embarrassments and inconveniences for mum too. And that’s not the only obstacle she has to overcome as the birth date approaches a whole lot faster than she anticipates.
Tracing Zoe’s pregnancy, from the moment of that positive test to the baby’s arrival, is full of neatly observed and often beautifully funny moments, from the awareness that every time one of her circle has a baby it means losing another friend to a night out with her bestie where she has to stay off the booze. And we all know how much fun it is to be stone cold sober when your mate is off her face and behaving like a big kid. Her relationship with Tim is drawn with equal accuracy and affection – she’s the outspoken extrovert with a mind of her own, he’s the quieter, unassuming one who cries when she does. Yet they’re a perfect match so, when her attitude towards being a mother comes between them, we desperately want them to get back together. And quick.
Executive produced by Taika Waititi – who else? – Baby Done is the latest addition to the recent canon of antipodean comedies all with a bone dry sense of humour and a heart as a big as a house. It’s blessed with a crisp script from Sophie Henderson, full of moments we all recognise, and an easy going-chemistry between Matafeo and Lewis that suits the less-than-showy production values, all of which keeps the film’s feet well and truly on the ground. Most importantly, though, it’s impossible not to invest in the two central characters, to genuinely care about them. There’s an endearing simplicity about Baby Done. It’s likeable. It has something to say. It’s charming. And it’s funny. Very funny.
Comedy | Cert: 15 | Digital | | 22 January 2021 | Dir. Curtis Vowell | Rose Matafeo, Matthew Lewis, Emily Barclay, Rachel House, Matenga Ashby.