I Hate Kids

Review by Rich Cline | 3/5

I Hate Kids
dir John Asher
scr Frank Dietz, Todd Traina
prd Rachel McHale, Todd Traina
with Tom Everett Scott, Tituss Burgess, Julian Feder, Rachel Boston, Rhea Seehorn, Julie Ann Emery, Beth Riesgraf, Arden Myrin, Bryan Batt, Andrew Bowen, Joyce Bulifant, Ray Abruzzo, Marisa Tomei, John Landis
release US 18.Jan.19
19/US 1h29

myrin batt tomei

Feder, Burgess and Scott
Warm and rather goofy, this high-concept comedy induces more smiles than laughs. It's fast-paced and breezily ridiculous enough to hold the attention, even if there's little in the way of originality or insight. Instead, director John Asher concentrates on his likeable cast and sunny locations around Los Angeles, which might just be enough for a brisk 89 minutes of mindless entertainment.
Famed kid-hating author Nick (Scott) has finally found a woman, Sydney (Boston), who shares his desire to remain childless. Then three days before their wedding, 13-year-old Mason (Feder) turns up claiming to be Nick's son, because it was revealed to wacky psychic Fabular (Burgess) by his dog Mr Sparkles. A DNA test proves it and, without telling Sydney, Nick agrees to help Mason find his biological mother, hitting the road with Fabular to track down rather a lot of women Nick knew all those years ago. But these women aren't happy to see him.
With a premise this silly, and continual moments of nutty slapstick, it's helpful that the actors play their roles relatively straight. Even Burgess resists going over the top as the colourful, clearly fraudulent Fabular, whose tiny dog is also on Nick's hate list. Driving around in the Fabmobile, this trio is surprisingly engaging, bouncing amusingly off a series of random people. Less engaging is the parallel plot in which Sydney's heavily pregnant sister (Seehorn) convinces her to find out what Nick is up to.

Scott manages to make the self-absorbed Nick likeable, mainly because he so gamely plays each scene in which he's shown up for being a curmudgeon. His chemistry with Feder is relaxed and realistic, as Burgess literally remains in the back seat, injecting sharp humour with impeccable timing (there could actually be more of him). Meanwhile, Boston and Seehorn play scenes more broadly as the panicky bride and expectant mother. Tomei is hilarious in a cameo as an extremely high-powered woman who puts Nick in his place.

The rather obvious nature of the script prevents the film from becoming anything more than a vacuous comedy. And much of the humour is pretty simplistic, including a cheap trans joke and a squirm-inducing delivery-room gag. But there are also some enjoyable twists in the tale, even if not a single one of them is terribly surprising. There is never even the slightest question of where this is heading, and yet it still manages to elicit a happy sigh.

cert 12 themes, language, violence 13.Jan.19

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© 2019 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall