Nine Months has all the makings of an incredible disaster. First, its star (Hugh Grant) is arrested for lewd conduct. Second, it's a remake of a French film (Neuf Mois), always a huge negative. Finally, it's a comedy decidedly for adults which is directed by the infantile Chris Columbus, the man who brought us the Home Alone franchise and Mrs. Doubtfire.
Imagine my shock; Nine Months is pretty good.
The success of the film is due entirely to the radiant presence of Julianne Moore as Rebecca, a woman who finds herself unintentionally pregnant and with no clue as to what to do. Grant plays Samuel, the world's most neurotic boyfriend, who has to "grow up" and come to grips with the fact that his convertible has no room for a baby seat.
Rounding out the cast are Tom Arnold and Joan Cusack, a pair of obnoxious breeders that serve as foils for the cathartic Samuel. Robin Williams plays a bumbling, Russian obstetrician who seems to be learning about pregnancy at the same time as Rebecca. You don't have to look far beyond the last three actors' names to figure out what goes on when they're on the screen: raw, unfiltered, and often unnecessarily vulgar, comedy.
Nine Months hits the metaphor pretty hard... never missing a moment to tell us just how great the pregnancy-childbirth experience is, and Samuel is constantly rebuked for his beliefs that the world is overpopulated and (more importantly) that he will be incapable of being a good father. The result is a pretty heavy-handed "message" movie that will not stop beating its theme into the viewer.
It drags a bit at times, and the film never becomes really engrossing, but whenever Moore is on screen, none of that seems to matter. The emotion and power she puts into her performance make every second of the film worth watching, if only to get to Julianne's next scene. It might not be the best way to make a film work, but in this day and age I'll take just about anything.
Nine Months is a film with a huge identity crisis. Columbus obviously couldn't give up slapstick (i.e. Home Alone), filling what could have been a touching romance with antics that are entirely out of place here. Again, this is not a kids' movie, as the mother of the child who sat behind me at the screening can attest to (when he asked what a particularly explicit piece of anatomy was).
Incidentally, I had the fortune to see this film with a woman who happens to be currently pregnant. She loved the film ("double thumbs up") and was pretty impressed with the realism given to Rebecca's experience. As she put it, only the constant puking was missing.
Come to think of it, I'm not sure I needed to see that anyway.