Greetings again from the darkness. “I don’t want to not have a baby.” This is just one of the zingers Zoe rattles off during this charming, and often quite funny film from director Curtis Vowell and writer Sophie Henderson. Fellow New Zealander Taika Waititi is an Executive Producer, and his influences are apparent (and always welcome). In a light-hearted way, while still maintaining plenty of heart, the film explores the fear of losing or compromising one’s true self when parenthood strikes.
Rose Matafeo delivers a terrific performance as Zoe, a tree-climbing arborist by profession, and a thrill-seeking adventurer by choice. Her partner in life, and in the tree-trimming business and in the thrill seeking, is Tim (Matthew Lewis). They are the type of couple who go to a friend’s baby shower and peek into the gender reveal box before dominating the party games. Zoe is fed up with losing friends, and describes the life cycle as “Married, house, baby, done”, implying that people aren’t the same after having completing these steps and no longer want to hang out with free-wheelers and the unencumbered like her and Tim.
Denial. That’s the best description of how Zoe reacts to finding out she’s pregnant. Besides not telling Tim (a major relationship gaffe), she continues on with tree-trimming and pursues the “Tree Climbing Championship” she has qualified for (I still wonder if that’s really a thing). When Tim and her friend Molly (Emily Barclay) find out about the secret, feelings are hurt and emotions wreak havoc. Comedy is provided through the prenatal/antenatal class instructor, as well as through Zoe’s new acquaintance Brian (Nic Sampson) whom she connects with online. See, Nic … well, he, uh … has a thing for pregnant women. Not babies, mind you. But pregnant women – which by definition seems to limit the prospects of a long-term relationship.
The always-great Rachel House makes a brief appearance as the headmaster at a local school, and much of what we see is a mess created by pregnant Zoe as she attempts to stay focused on her “bucket list”. The film excels at presenting two versions of anxiety with Zoe and Tim, and it’s loaded with relatively small moments that are quite relatable – some funny, some more serious. Like it or not, parenthood creates life changes, and the topic benefits from New Zealand wit, and a cast that perfectly complements the sharp and insightful script.
In select theaters and VOD on January 22, 2021