Unearned confidence is the currency of so much ego-shredding male-dominated comedy these days that when a movie like "Barry Munday" suddenly goes squishy and redemptive on the strutting suburban lothario it's spent quality time ridiculing, the tone shift is startling. The titular horn dog played by Patrick Wilson (with admirable comic understatement early on) endures quite the double jolt: loss of his testicles from a vicious movie theater attack and a paternity charge from a one-night stand ( Judy Greer) he can't remember.
Writer-director Chris D'Arienzo, adapting a novel by Frank Turner Hollon, stacks the deck in rooting for Barry's transformation from laughable cad to cuddly dad, however, by surrounding him with irritants. Greer's wallflower is bitter, and their respective families — played by Jean Smart, Malcolm McDowell, Cybill Shepherd and Chloë Sevigny — come off like a second-rate sitcom's castoffs. Not that there aren't acceptable heart tugs toward the end, as the movie finalizes its teasing, affectionate embrace of a rooster forced into early retirement.
But D'Arienzo's love of trite indie-movie signposts of comic quirkiness — deadpan delivery, overly formal camerawork, characters delivering dialogue into the camera, stunt casting ( Billy Dee Williams as Wilson's boss) — is ultimately regrettable.
— Robert Abele
"Barry Munday." MPAA rating: R for sexual content and language. Running time: 1 hour, 34 minutes. At Laemmle's Music Hall, Beverly Hills.