January 2004
My Baby's Daddy

By Julian Roman 
My Baby's Daddy
Distributor: Miramax
Directed by: Cheryl Dunye
Producers: Matt Weaver, Happy Walters, Damon Daniels, Scott Nemes
Screenwriter: Damon “Coke” Daniels
Cast: Eddie Griffin, Anthony Anderson, Michael Imperioli, Method Man, Paula Jai Parker, Bai Ling, Marsha Thomason, Bobb’e Jacquez Thompson, John Amos, Tiny Lister, Amy Sedaris, & Joanna Bacalso 

My Baby’s Daddy is a very disappointing film. I didn’t foresee any Oscar nominations walking in, but I really expected a lot more from a film with Eddie Griffin, Anthony Anderson, and Michael Imperioli. The story has heart and that’s about it. It had some genuinely funny moments, but is really not that funny or entertaining as a whole. My chief complaint, and it pains me to write this, is that the film is poorly directed and edited. I can’t understand what happened because the director, Cheryl Dunye, is quite talented and has done some banner work in the past. Her HBO original film, Stranger Inside, was a gritty, heart wrenching look at a mother and daughter at the same correctional facility. That was a great movie. In fact, it inspired high hopes for this film when I learned that she was the director. I can only guess that she wasn’t as passionate about the script for this film because it’s evident onscreen. 

The plot centers on three lifelong friends that live together in Philadelphia. Eddie Griffin is Lonnie, a nerdy guy who is infatuated with his hood rat girlfriend Rolonda (Paula Jai Parker). Anthony Anderson is G, a wannabe boxer working in a Chinese supermarket owned by his girlfriend’s (Bai Ling) family. Michael Imperioli of The Sopranos fame plays Dominic, a sound engineer who has a fling with his boss Nia (Joanna Bacalso). In a completely preposterous twist of fate, the guys impregnate their girlfriends at one of their wild house parties. Nine months vanishes in a flash and now the swinging bachelors are fathers, forced to face the harsh reality of being a baby’s daddy. 

Eddie Griffin and his writing partner, Damon “Coke” Daniels, had the original idea and co-wrote the script. I see what they’re trying to do with the film and it’s an admirable attempt. They wanted to show that men can become responsible and take care of their children. These guys aren’t generic sitcom characters from Must See TV or CBS’s Monday night cheesefest. They are urban guys in an urban setting learning that fatherhood is serious business and must be respected. It’s very positive in its portrayal of stereotypical characters. This is where the film succeeds. Unfortunately, there is really nothing else that can be praised. 

I had serious issues with the editing and directing style of the film. It looks like it was made by amateurs. Granted it’s a low budget film, but there are continuity errors all over the place. These kinds of mistakes fall solely in the laps of the director and editor. They could have done a much better job filming and piecing the movie together. I did like the cartoon they had in the beginning. They use a cartoon to lay the groundwork for the story and introduce us to the main characters. That was cleverly done and deserves some recognition for being so.

 If you look at the film purely as a comedy then it does have its moments. The three lead characters are funny guys and nothing can stop that from coming through. They are likable and make the most out of what they have. Anthony Anderson’s exploits at the Chinese grocery are fairly humorous and the high point of the film. Method Man has a cameo as Anderson’s cousin, No Good, but is totally wasted. My Baby’s Daddy has the right idea, but falls far short as a film. It’s really too bad because the three leads are great actors and deserve a better vehicle for their talents.