Film Review: Baby Done Dir: Curtis Vowell

Starring: Rose Matafeo, Matthew Lewis, Emily Barclay, Madeleine Sami

Having recently watched Rose Matafeo’s HBO Max stand-up special Horndog I was super excited for Baby Done, the latest NZ comedy directed by Curtis Vowell and written by Sophie Henderson. I wasn’t disappointed. No surprises that Taika Waititi is an Executive Producer on the film.

Matafeo plays Zoe, a woman with tree climbing competition ambitions, with no plans to have a baby anytime soon. Zoe finds herself pregnant, and in denial. Zoe is the type that reluctantly attends her friends baby showers, takes the piss out of happy expectant parents, and seeks to steer clear of such friends once their baby comes along.

Zoe does all she can to avoid preparing for the inevitable in order to hold on to her dreams of competing in the world arborists championship. She didn’t get a pregnancy test until late into the pregnancy, giving her and her partner Tim (Mathew Lewis) little time to mentally or practically prepare.

The film explores what it means to become a parent, what the label ‘parent’ does to your identity as an individual, and what that means for your dreams and career ambitions, and how that can impact your mental wellbeing. At least what you think it or fear it might mean, before you find in reality that parenthood doesn’t actually mean non-parental aspirations are over.

In her fear that having fun is permanently over, Zoe suggest her and Tim “make a list of the wildest things we need to do before the baby comes”. That’s after she attempts to go bungy jumping before informing Tim he’s about to become a father.

The film undeniably works thanks to Rose as Zoe, with Zoe’s best mate Molly (Emily Barclay) firmly holding place as a hilarious and appealingly down to earth supporting character. Tim lacks personality, but Mathew Lewis does a perfect job playing charmingly naive and uncomplicated with just the right amount of weird.

There’s a raft of uncredited cameos from the who’s who of contemporary NZ comedy – Alice Snedden (you must check out Alice Snedden’s Bad News if you haven’t already), Tom Sainsbury, Kura Forrester, Rachel House and the list goes on. The role of delivery nurse in the birthing centre is made for Madeline Sami. Sami is as brilliant as always.

My only criticism is the set. Who lives in houses as immaculate as Zoe’s friend who held the baby shower? The house was ridiculously pristine. And where were all the kids causing havoc? I seriously doubt Zoe, a rental class arborist, would attend a party at a ‘made for open home pics’ house like that. And shame on her if she did.

Baby Done is a timely feel good film that gently touches on complex subjects. I recommend for some light hearted escapism full of laughs with characters that you could easily be friends with.

Andy Baker