Nine Months

1995 Directed by Chris Columbus. Starring Hugh Grant, Julianne Moore, Tom Arnold, Joan Cusack, Jeff Goldblum, Robin Williams.

REVIEWED By Alison Macor, Fri., July 14, 1995

No matter how long writer/director Chris Columbus (Mrs. Doubtfire, Home Alone 1 and 2) labored over Nine Months, even a C-section couldn't rescue the shallow script and overplayed performances by Hugh Grant and Tom Arnold. Columbus' romantic comedy, based on the French film Neuf Mois, is all crazy sight gags and no story. Grant stars as Samuel Faulkner, a children's psychotherapist living with Rebecca Taylor (Moore), his ballet teacher-girlfriend of many years. Their relationship is perfect, or so we are told in the opening scene in which they celebrate their commitment to each other with a champagne toast on the beach. However, problems with this film arise immediately due, in large part, to the lack of chemistry between Grant and Moore. They may be celebrating five wonderful years together, but Columbus (and the actors, for that matter) does very little to show the bonds that keep these two people in love. Aside from endless cooing (again hard to believe because of the lack of spark between the actors), there are few indications that this relationship goes deeper than a French kiss. When Rebecca discovers that she's pregnant and announces it to the definitely unsupportive Samuel, the characters quickly square off against each other. He's obsessed with how their perfect relationship will be ruined, and she's frantic about getting married and having the baby. As a neighboring couple who are also expecting a child, supporting actors Arnold and Cusack define the phrase baby machine, offering some entertaining moments but an equal number of tasteless and downright dumb exchanges. Robin Williams plays a Russian obstetrician recently promoted from delivering simians to birthing human beings. Williams basically plays himself with a Russian accent; he's fast becoming the Meryl Streep of comedic actors. No one would argue that this film tries to be anything more than a sweet and lighthearted look at one man's fear and trauma over impending fatherhood and marital commitment. But there are successful ways to pull this off, and Nine Months is one extended shtick that ends long after the last laugh is heard. The labor scene toward the end of the film offers a fine example of over-the-top antics that just aren't funny; in fact, some of the gags are even offensive. All of this isn't to say that Grant's a one-trick actor, but perhaps the success of Four Weddings and a Funeral was due, in large measure, to the timing and abilities of that film's ensemble cast and the strength of a smartly written script. Nine Months has neither of these. To top it all off, when Sam and Rebecca's baby finally does arrive, he looks a lot like Tom Arnold, but I guess that's another film. And if the scene in which a theatre marquee announces Home Alone VI is any indication of Columbus' future directing plans, a sequel to Nine Months unfortunately may not be far behind.

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Nine Months, Chris Columbus, Hugh Grant, Julianne Moore, Tom Arnold, Joan Cusack, Jeff Goldblum, Robin Williams

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