2017, NR, 71 min. Directed by Bob Byington. Starring Kieran Culkin, Kevin Corrigan, Martin Starr, Trieste Kelly Dunn, Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally, Martha Kelly, Zoe Graham, Stephen Root.
REVIEWED By Josh Kupecki, Fri., Sept. 15, 2017
Bob Byington is one of those filmmakers that can be a bit polarizing. Throughout his career, he has mined a particular brand of comedy: Introduce eccentric and sardonic characters, have them engage with each other with quips and quibbles perfectly timed, fall in and out of love; yet for the most part, there’s not a lot of resolution in his films. Characters usually end in a place not too far from where they started. And that’s perfectly fine with me (although that may speak a little too closely to my own personal quagmires). And while his latest film Infinity Baby is scripted by Onur Tukel (Catfight), this is very much a Byington joint.
Infinity Baby’s sci-fi-themed premise posits that, in the near future, experiments with stem-cell research create an anomaly: thousands of babies manufactured who don’t age. The result of that is the titular corporation creating a market for these ageless tykes for consumers who want the idea of being a parent without the responsibility of actually being a parent (you only need to feed and change their diapers once a week, and they mostly just sleep and coo). Enter Ben (Culkin), the nephew of Infinity Baby’s CEO Neo (Offerman), who spends his time dating a rotating variety of women before eventually dumping them and moving on. “You’re the biggest dick I’ve ever met!” exclaims an early jilted girlfriend, and that is very much the truth. Ben is an obsessively self-absorbed man-child, constantly biting his fingernails (a nice character tic), who oversees a couple of employees, Malcolm (Starr) and Larry (Corrigan), who are responsible for delivering the babies to clients. When one of the customers refuses to take the child, they hatch a scheme for financial gain and the plot is off and running (well, off and shambling, at any rate).
The performances are uniformly excellent. Malcolm and Larry’s chemistry begins a bit shaky, but as the film progresses, it comes together beautifully (if tragically). Megan Mullally as Ben’s acidic mother Hester steals every scene she’s in. And Culkin’s Ben, in a role that most would find despicable, goes for broke as the “ultimate” infinity baby. It’s an extremely funny and caustic film, but when it tempers that with moments of humanity, that is where the film shines. At a scant runtime, Infinity Baby doesn’t quite fully develop all the themes it introduces, but it’s Byington through and through, and I’ll take it.