What’s the difference between simply being a man and really acting like a man? Barry Munday begs to ask that question. It’s a hilarious look at the responsibilities facing a guy whose carefree lifestyle comes to a screeching halt and the unexpected joy and happiness he becomes determined to find. A morbidly humorous twist on a familiar romantic comedy device and a terrific cast help Barry Munday stand out alongside the years’ better comedies. It’s both funny on a juvenile level and truly endearing, making the film one you will want to be sure and see.
Barry Munday (Patrick Wilson) is an immature underachiever who slides through his office drone job, living for only one thing: scamming on girls. He’s spends his weekends cruising for ladies during happy hours at yuppie restaurants. He manages to squeak by with some success based on a mix of booze and blind luck. Things go sour for Barry when a distraught father catches him hitting on an underage daughter at a movie theater. Before Barry even has time to explain, he’s clobbered with a trumpet by the angry dad. Soon enough Barry regains consciousness in a hospital, being doted upon by his mother and gawked at by his doctors. It turns out that the attack left Barry missing his testicles. Complicating things even further, he’s contacted by a lawyer regarding a paternity claim with a women he can’t honestly remember ever having sex with. Regardless, it turns out that this Ginger Farley (Judy Greer) is entirely convinced Barry’s the dad. It doesn’t take long for Barry to realize that this is his only chance to be a father now. Soon his life begins again as he attempts something entirely new: responsibility. The rest of Barry’s story has him navigating around his extremely neurotic new partner, her terrifying parents and demented sister, and all of the ins and outs of preparing for a new baby.
Barry Munday manages to avoid being boring or clichéd. Equal credit goes to both the well-handled theme of losing one’s manhood and pitch-perfect cast of oddball characters. Barry himself is hilarious, a total dork that will surprise audiences with how much he continues to out-embarrass himself during every single opportunity he gets. Patrick Wilson shines as a he embraces a character that’s just impossible to dislike and his spot-on delivery makes every stupid word he utters seem like it genuinely came from the world’s biggest tool. He manages to make this part of his charm and his earnest turn as Barry makes it fun to root for him. Judy Greer also takes her character and runs with it. Ginger is obnoxious and excessively negative, putting down Barry at every corner. She’s really the perfect form of punishment for all of Barry’s past transgressions against women. Greer shines brightest, though, when she allows Barry to get closer and learn along with the audience what kind of past has made her such a righteous bitch.
The supporting characters are terrific as well. Jean Smart plays Barry’s mom, a loving woman who couldn’t be more proud of her idiot son. Cybill Shepherd and Malcolm McDowell play Ginger’s mom and dad, respectively – two veteran legends that light up every scene they’re in. McDowell stands out in particular, as he unabashedly disapproves of everything about Barry. The story’s antagonist takes the form of Ginger’s sister Jennifer, played by Chlöe Sevigny. She’s impish and mean and delights in torturing Barry in front of her own family. It’s particularly fun to watch Barry try to defend himself against her, despite the futility of going against the golden child of a family who already hates his guts.
Barry Munday is the right combination of a clever story supported by great characters. Barry himself is sure to remind everyone of at least one moron that they knew either in college or at work and audiences will delight in the situations he manages to get himself into. The film also sends the right message, that the value of your character is defined through your actions and not just your manhood. Despite a predictable end to an otherwise unconventional tale, the cast itself will have audiences so invested that they’ll just be happy to see the story through. A very neat pace and a tight running time ensure the film accomplishes everything it sets out to do. Also, a terrific and enthusiastic soundtrack also helps maintain the charm of the movie even during the most awkward of Barry’s adventures. It comes especially recommended to those who are tired of the typical summer comedy and want something with a little more…balls.