[box cover]

Nine Months

Writer/director Chris Columbus apparently loves the realm of schmaltzy family comedies, and it's a good thing, since he rarely makes anything else. In 1995's Nine Months, the creator of Mrs. Doubtfire trains his homogenized eye on the topic of impending fatherhood. The resulting film is something of a mixed bag; although sweet enough to be enjoyed on a "guilty pleasure" level, the movie ends up cheapening the overwhelming flood of emotions that befall all expectant parents via a reliance on pratfalls and warm fuzzies. Hugh Grant stars as Sam, a man who literally has it all — a stable five-year relationship with his beloved girlfriend (played by a surprisingly young Julianne Moore — 1995 wasn't that long ago, was it?), a car to die for, and a job that allows him to unabashedly indulge his every financial whim. But when his sweetie reveals the fact that she's pregnant, Sam's world is turned upside-down as the parties, picnics and Porsches he's accustomed to are replaced by diapers, cribs and ultrasounds. Hugh Grant pulls off something of a minor miracle in this film. His role as Sam is arguably among the best of his career, and the better aspects of Nine Months owe a lot to Grant's overwhelming sincerity and his convincing portrayal of a man who literally can't decide what he wants. It's a shame, then, that the rest of the cast — with the possible exception of Moore — give him so little to play against. So many familiar faces dot the landscape of this movie (Jeff Goldblum, Tom Arnold, Joan Cusack) that after a while they serve as little more than a distraction — a cameo cornucopia, if you will. Worst of all is Robin Williams' extended turn as an incompetent Russian obstetrician, stopping the film cold every time he appears on the screen. It's too bad that Columbus didn't believe in his story enough to let Grant carry it; surrounded as he is by camera-mugging, pratfalling idiots, even an actor of Grant's considerable charisma can't do anything except watch the movie's occasional moments of drama get yanked from his grasp. The film isn't terrible — and it's by no means unwatchable — but so many opportunities for drama are exchanged for low-brow humor that one is bound to feel a little cheated when it's all over. Fox's DVD release of Nine Months offers an acceptable anamorphic widescreen transfer (2.35:1) with no visible artifacts, although it seems a tad soft overall. Audio is in DD 5.1. Features include three theatrical trailers (one of which is in French — a nice touch), a collection of TV spots, and five previews for other Fox DVDs. Keep-case.
—Joe Barlow



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