Comedy is hard to do for two main reasons: First, comedy isn’t universal. Appreciation for comedy varies much more wildly than it does for other genres of entertainment, like action or horror for example. Second, comedic bits and gags have greater diminishing returns when repeated than action or horror sequences do. So while martial arts fights and murdered teenagers never get old, comedy has to keep evolving and trying different approaches to remain relevant. Someone Marry Barry exemplifies this concept, offering a little bit of the old shock comedy of recent years while exploring relatively new territory in humor. The result is something refreshing and unique that’s worth any comedy-seeker’s time.
Barry Burke (Tyler Labine) epitomizes the one guy in every group who manages to say and do the most inappropriate thing in any given situation. He’ll dredge up embarrassing stories during eulogies, masturbate to the thought of his friend’s girlfriend, talk to the boss about how hot his daughter is, and more. The bigger problem is that Barry doesn’t realize the havoc his actions cause, and while he may have been a fun time for his friends, Desmond (Damon Wayans, Jr.), Rafe (Hayes MacArthur), and Kurt (Thomas Middleditch), when they were kids, the guys can no longer tolerate Barry as adults. They decide that the only way to rid themselves of Barry, without killing him, is to get him a wife. Unfortunately, all of their initial attempts fail, until Barry meets Melanie Miller (Lucy Punch). The problem, however, is that Melanie is just as inappropriate as Barry, and that’s definitely too much for the guys to handle.
At its core, Someone Marry Barry is a romantic comedy, which means that – in many significant ways – audiences can expect prototypical story beats. Boy is going meet girl, lose girl and then try to get girl back. Where the film distinguishes itself, however, is in the type of characters that are involved in the relationship. The two leads are so outrageous, they could only be made for each other. For example, when Barry confesses to farting while sharing a cab with Melanie, she isn’t repulsed. Instead, she criticizes him for having such a weak fart and then tries to outdo him. Who else could be with either of these two people?
Tyler Labine and Lucy Punch give two of the more natural performances in a film about two jackasses falling in love with each other. As a result, the two come off as charismatic in their own ways. The performances truly portray Barry and Melanie as two eccentrics who don’t behave the way they do out of mean spiritedness, but rather due to a light sociopathic streak in both of them. Best of all, the two actors are fully committed to their roles, to the point that it wouldn’t surprise if half their dialogue turned out to be adlibbed. Both Labine and Punch have played their fair share of quirky characters in the past, and they continue to flex their acting and comedy chops here, handily carrying the film.
Predictability does rear its ugly head throughout the film, but that’s almost unavoidable given the genre. Nevertheless, it’s hard not to feel a little impatience when watching any of the subplots involving the three friends who want to get rid of Barry. Their stories are more or less necessary for the overall film to work, but because they don’t get much screen time, it’s easy to see how they’re going to resolve later in the movie. Someone Marry Barry would have been better served if the group of friends had been consolidated into one character, which would have made for a more poignant experience for audiences, but this is a minor concern at best.
Someone Marry Barry is a reliable choice for anyone who enjoys comedies. It isn’t dark or mean or even too shocking – despite seeing some scrotum and a sculpture of a penis. Just don’t go into this movie thinking it’s a romantic comedy in the traditional sense. Technically, the film has romance and comedy, but a date movie it ain’t.