Rose Matafeo (best known in the UK for a stint on Taskmaster) puts in a terrific turn as Zoe, a young woman struggling to come to terms with an unplanned pregnancy, in Kiwi director Curtis Vowell’s new comedy Baby Done. Executive produced by Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok, Jojo Rabbit), the film also stars British actor Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom in the Harry Potter movies) as Zoe’s besotted long-time boyfriend Tim.
Outdoors-y and free-spirited, Zoe runs a small tree surgery business in New Zealand. She dreams of competing at the upcoming world tree climbing championships, but when she finds out that she’s expecting her first child, she freaks out about the prospect of motherhood and joining the growing number of her married-with-children friends. While Tim is enthusiastic about becoming a dad and sets about the preparation, Zoe prefers to revel in capturing every last bit of freedom before the baby’s arrival – two very different reactions which soon result in a rift forming between the couple.
Vowell’s film follows in the long tradition of deadpan Kiwi comedies we’ve come to expect from the Waititi stable. If not entirely original, it is charming and includes plenty of laugh-out-loud moments. The subject of parenthood, and all its expectations and fears, are explored effectively by screenwriter Sophie Henderson, with a commendable attention to detail.
As Zoe unravels in the most spectacular way, there are some moments that ring truer than others. A subplot about a creepy ‘preggophile’ (played by Nic Sampson) – as hilarious as it may sound – sadly falls flat. Having said that, this is a rare misstep in Henderson’s story, which is otherwise packed with sharp and precise comedic writing.
Matafeo is the real revelation here. She carries the film from start to finish and exudes charm and wit, playing a character you want to root for but that exasperates in equal measure. Matthew Lewis too gives a fantastic performance as the hugely likeable Tim, a man caught between trying to do the right thing for the woman he loves and needing to be the level-headed half of a highly unconventional couple.
If it’s heart and laughter you’re after, Baby Done has bucketloads of both. Elevated by Matafeo and Lewis’ irresistible chemistry, the film strikes just the right balance between serious study in modern parenthood and slapstick comedy. Overall, a tame yet well-executed indie with tender moments throughout.
- Director: Curtis Vowell
- Starring: Rose Matafeo, Matthew Lewis, Emily Barclay
- Release date: January 22 (Digital)