Written and starring the Vancouver actress, Preggoland drops you into the life of Ruth, a woman in her mid-thirties with absolutely zero motivation for anything. She still lives with her father, played by James Caan, and still works at the same independently owned grocery store she’s been employed by since she was sixteen.
Her group of friends have moved on in their lives, gotten married, had kids and regard Ruth as the hapless black sheep of the group. This is completely evident in the beginning scene of the film where Ruth is attending her best friend Shannon’s (Laura Harris) baby shower, promptly gets drunk and accidentally smashes her friends young son in the face with a pinata stick. After the disastrous shower incident, Ruth is ostracized from the group. This sets our tone for the film and it starts to go downhill for me.
Through a miscommunication, Ruth is mistaken for pregnant by a random stranger during a run-in with her former friends and, in the worst of decisions usually reserved for sitcom characters, decides to just go with it. I mean, what’s the worst that could happen? Don’t get my words twisted, Ruth does have the intention of coming clean at multiple points during the film but the thought of proving everyone right and letting her friends and family down is too much for her to bear, so the lie lives on. Way too long.
The issues in this movie don’t rest on the shoulders of the actors by any means. Bennett, who appeared in one of my favorite Canadian films Young People F***ing (a person favorite of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, I seem to recall), gives Ruth a very sturdy character base and works to redeem this, at first, completely unlikable main role. Caan is fun as well as the doting father living with a bad heart and we even have Machete himself, Danny Trejo, as a stock boy at her workplace who gets quickly roped into her absurd lie.
The problem is this story feels like it’s already been done a few times in other projects and has nothing really original to set it apart. Heck, even Lindsay Lohan had a kick at this can in 2009’s Labor Pains with her faking a pregnancy to keep her job, which is one of the subplots of this film. This film also claims on the poster to be a comedy in the same vein as Bridesmaids, which is entirely misleading as, unlike the Judd Apatow and Paul Feig films, this one isn’t that funny, more kind of tragic that this character is so misdirected.
I think the most unfortunate thing about this film is that it comes under the direction of Montreal filmmaker Jacob Tierney, who delivered a fantastic film with Jay Baruchel’s The Trotsky and showed so much promise. Preggoland is so formulaic and gives itself no direction to grow. It’s very”paint by numbers”, so much so that I could predict exactly what was going to happen, scene to scene.
I’m sure this film will find an audience, for me I can certainly say it wasn’t here. I hope to see much more good things from Sonja Bennett, but something further of the beaten path may be the key to her success. I give Preggoland a lowly two out of five.
“Preggoland” is screening at Cineplex Odeon International Village Cinemas