DVDSleuth.com is your source for daily DVD news and reviews.
Labor Pains (2009)
First Look Studios
Blu-ray Disc Released: 8/4/2009
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 7/24/2009
When I write a review, I try to remain very objective and only critique the film. Unless there are extremely unusual events surrounding the film's production, I stick to examining the film. And I never engage in gossip about actors...except for now. What happened to Lindsay Lohan? At age 12, she wowed the world by playing not one, but two roles in The Parent Trap. For such a young actress, she did an amazing job in working twice as hard. After that, she continued to show some nice acting chops in other Disney projects. Then, when she was in her late teens, rumors began to spread that her partying was getting out of hand. She started to appear in more tabloids than movies. It reached the point where the producer ofGeorgia Rule wrote an open letter to Lohan criticizing her work ethic. Her career reached an (up to this point) low-point with the mutilated stripper movie, I Know Who Killed Me. Following this, word surfaced that she couldn't get work. Her latest release marks another dent in her resume, as Labor Pains by-passed theaters and went straight to basic cable and then home video. How bad can it be?
Lohan stars in Labor Pains as Thea Clayhill, a receptionist at a small publishing firm. She supports her high-school aged sister (Bridgit Mendler), as their parents are deceased. Thea hates her job, and the treatment which she receives from her crazy boss, Jerry (Chris Parnell). After she accidentally feeds Jerry's dog soap, Jerry threatens to fire her. Panicking, Thea claims to be pregnant to avoid losing her job. Jerry believes her story and then leaves town to aid his dog in rehab. Following this, Thea must pretend to be pregnant until she can find a way out of it. However, in Jerry's absence, his brother, Nick (Luke Kirby), decides that the firm should abandon their slate of military books and publish a new book on pregnancy which he's discovered. As she's "pregnant", he asks Thea to assist on the project. The job carries more money and a title, so she accepts. How long can she maintain this ruse?
From here on out, I will attempt to remain objective about Labor Pains, but I must say this. Is this was simply any other movie which premiered on ABC Family, no one would pay any attention to it. But, as it's a film which features a Hollywood falling star which missed its theatrical aspirations, it's gotten noticed. And, it will most likely be unjustly criticized for this. Should we be harder on Labor Pains because it features Lindsay Lohan and other familiar faces. No.
Does the movie deserve harsh criticism? For the most part, yes. Is this a truly bad movie? No, of course not. The acting is fairly good and the pacing is OK. The problem here is the story. Kudos to the movie for not dragging out the inevitable -- it's less than 15 minutes into the film when Thea concocts her story. But, after that, Labor Pains becomes incredibly predictably and it essentially a one-note story. Once Thea fakes her pregnancy and Nick and his book idea are introduced, if you couldn't write the rest of this film on your own, then this must be the first romantic-comedy that you've ever seen. There is nothing, and I mean nothing original here, from the Three's Company nature of Thea's fake pregnancy to the finale, this is one of the most blatant paint-by-numbers movies that I've ever seen. Only a birthing class scene which gets a bit ribald shows any spark, and I have a feeling that this was excised from the ABC Family cut.
The sad nature of the script would have been somewhat forgivable is anything else interesting was happening in the movie, but nothing is. For starters, the characters are incredibly unappealing. When we learn Thea's life-story and why she has this job, we are supposed to feel sorry for her, but Lohan plays her with so little energy that it's hard to muster any feelings. Thea's sister comes across as a decidedly mean person, and Nick is incredibly bland. The supporting cast is much more likeable, most notably Cheryl Hines. The movie is ostensibly a comedy, but there was only one truly funny line in the film, and it came so far from left field that it felt as if it was on its way to another movie.
I won't try to be one of those clever, catty critics who claims that watching Labor Pains was a "painful" experience. But, I certainly didn't enjoy the film. Lackluster is the best way to describe the entire affair. I've certainly seen worse movies, as this one is fairly competently made and features familiar faces, but it's a joyless experience. Shouldn't childbirth be a celebration?
Labor Pains contracts every four minutes on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of First Look Studios. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 20 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear at times, and only average at others. There is no distracting grain and no defects from the source material. The colors look good and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is acceptable. This transfer certainly rivals HD broadcast quality, but I don't know if I would call it reference quality. The Disc contains a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 1.5 Mbps. The track delivers clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are pretty good, most notably during crowd scenes. However, there are never any notable surround sound or subwoofer effects. Some surround is evident with musical cues or a studio audience at a show, but the effects are weak.
The Labor Pains Blu-ray Disc contains three extras. "Making of Featurette" (13 minutes) is a fairly standard featurette. It offers comments from the cast, who discuss their characters, and the director. There is some on-set footage here, but it's all pretty pedestrian. We get CAST INTERVIEWS with Lindsay Lohan, Cheryl Hines, Luke Kirby, and Chris Parnell, some of which are the same as those found in the "making of". Finally, we have production stills.
Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long