Main cast: Jacob York (Greg), Charlie David (Ken), Chris Salvatore (Thomas), Britten Tillinghast (Lindsay Walker), and Darrin Otto (Brett Roberts)
Director: Matt Riddlehoover
What will happen if the male body evolves to be able to conceive and give birth? Paternity Leave claims to answer this question, but it makes the older movie Junior look like an award-winning classic in the process. Unlike Junior, this one doesn’t even pretend to offer a little bit of science. Things just happen, and somehow, a man can carry a fetus in his abdominal cavity and delivers the baby through the rear end. And, amazingly, it can be done with the man sitting on his rear end in an inflatable pool of water!
Okay, so maybe there are other things to savor in this movie, if one looks aside the utter failure in the science of the whole premise? Well, I suppose I can say that Jacob York looks gorgeous with that beard thing on his face, but that’s about it. Even then, the male cast all sport beards or various degrees of stubble, and they are all of similar builds and facial structures, so one may end up more confused than anything else when our protagonist, Greg, hops from one guy to another guy made from a similar prototype.
Oh yes, the plot. Greg and Ken have been together for four years, and during their fourth anniversary, Greg who is always the top decides to let Ken do the honors on his rear end. Oops, baby, although it’d take a while for the fact that Greg is pregnant to set in on everyone. Greg begins experiencing morning sickness and all the other joys of carrying a baby, Ken and Greg begin arguing over the future, and so forth. It’s like what happens when a straight couple find themselves expecting a surprise baby, come to think of it, and I find it odd that neither Greg nor Ken seem to actively considering going to someone to abort the baby during those moments when they are feeling that their lives may be better off without a baby in the way.
This movie suffers from too much padding. For example, a lot of time is wasted on Greg living with a younger man, Thomas, whom he deems his intellectual inferior, before Greg ends up giving the man the heave-ho. Thomas has little to do with the overall plot, so I am not sure why those scenes are necessary; maybe Chris Salvatore has materials to blackmail the people behind the movie into giving him a role. It takes a while before Greg meets Ken, and then we fast forward the whole thing to four years later. Why do we need to do this? Can we just start at the fourth anniversary point of their relationship? And then, when Ken and Greg have a bump in their relationship, the movie wastes time suggesting that Greg may be developing something with the male midwife Brett. Again, why?
It’s not like these relationship moments are insightful in any way. All they do is reinforce the pattern in Greg’s behavior towards his partners: all is fun until the first time they disappoint him, upon which he kicks them out and then insists that leaving is what those men wanted to do in the first place. This guy seems to have unrealistically expectations of his partners, and instead of exploring Greg’s personality or developing that guy a bit more, the movie chooses to just toss one guy after another at Greg. The ease at which Greg seems to get guys to put him on a pedestal allows him to remain a stunted character from start to finish. The fact that all the guys around him remain one-dimensional stereotypes don’t improve matters. I don’t care which guy Greg ends up with, because they are all so flat and boring.
Therefore, Paternity Leave is a movie that doesn’t fully explore what happens when a man experiences what women have been experiencing all along, doesn’t offer any interesting relationship drama, and doesn’t have an interesting cast of characters. Everything is superficial here, and the comedy is typical of that of mediocre gay romantic stories everywhere – punch lines are too stilted to be funny, and there are moments when lines are woodenly delivered by actors who seem more comfortable reading aloud from the teleprompter.
Still, Greg and Ken have some easy chemistry here that makes some of their scenes together pretty sweet despite the cheesy lines flying around, and Greg is really nice to look, so I suppose this one may be worth renting when one is really bored and there is nothing else to watch.