Barry Munday was the first film I saw for SXSW, and it could have only been one of my favorite films of the festival for maybe another day or so. However, we are now on our seventh day of coverage for the fest…and Barry Munday is still one of my favorites.
Barry Munday might start out looking like a standard comedy about pregnancy and the days to come, like Knocked Up. However, this film is very different. Barry Munday takes a different approach, one that is very difficult in films. The film starts out with no reason whatsoever for you to like the characters, make no mistake there is nothing majestic about these characters. They are normal people, possibly people that you pass on the street, worth with and probably don’t like very much to begin with. So when the film ends and you expect to love the shiny new versions of those characters, that won’t be the case because they are still the same imperfect people that have just run with the punches of life and survived. So what is the challenge in building characters like these? Director Chris D’Arienzo wrote characters that are barely likeable, but crafted a story and a film that is sweet, genuine and one of the best comedies of the year.
It’s hard to believe that this is D’Arienzo’s first feature. A first film may be even more intimidating with a cast that features Patrick Wilson, Judy Greer, Chloe Sevigny, Malcolm McDowell, Cybill Shepherd and Billy Dee Williams. As I mentioned earlier, the main character is basically a huge douche…and it may be easy to laugh at him, but it’s also hard to like him. He goes through a massive transformation in the film which is sometimes seems very forced, but comes off very naturally in the film due to Wilson’s performance and the direction of D’Arienzo.
When I can sit through an entire film with a grin on my face, anticipating a laugh a minute, it is easy to say that I loved this movie. This is why I was so excited to sit with Chris D’Arienzo. He is a very funny guy, who loves film. His love and sense of humor pours out onto the screen, and Patrick Wilson shows us one of the funniest performances in the year. I feel like I’m cheating because I get to talk about and love this film with friends only here at SXSW, but with no doubt in my mind the rest of the world will get a taste of Barry Munday.
Check out our interview with Chris D’Arienzo below.