There was a frantic pace to the marketing of Nasty Baby. The movie follow Polly (Kristen Wiig) as she and her gay friend Freddy (Sebastián Silva) try to have a baby together. Freddy is also, as all this is going on, working on a video art project called “Nasty Baby” about the selfishness of bringing a new life into the world. When it turns out Freddy can’t get her pregnant they turn to Freddy’s boyfriend Mo (Tunde Adebimpe) to be the donor, a role he’s reluctant to take.
That forms the core of the movie’s story but it devolves toward the end into a drama about poor choices Freddy makes that impact all their lives but which ultimately don’t change their situation. So for a movie about consequences – everyone, particularly Mo, is always talking about how much having a baby is a big commitment that will change their lives – the biggest choice that’s made in the entire story winds up being almost entirely consequence-free. It’s an odd choice and the point of that remains unclear in my mind beyond if you’re a bunch of hipster singles in New York you can literally do anything and it won’t upset your search for the perfect brunch spot.
The movie, though, doesn’t move at the same frantic pace that was promised in much of the admittedly small campaign that worked to sell it. The trailer in particular was split into two discernible parts: The first selling a small, indie story about Polly, Freddy and Mo and their attempts to have a baby and get along in the world. But then the trailer shifts and begins playing things much cagier, with lots of strobe light-esque effects and flashing visuals that establish a frenzied, chaotic story.
That story, though, never shows up in the movie. It’s all much more like the first half of the trailer, even when the characters start piling on the bad decisions, most of which are made from a sense of selfishness and entitlement. There are only two real moments where that flashy style shows up, once near the beginning and once right before the end.
So there was a definite sense that the marketing at least slightly missold the movie in some way. I kept waiting for that pop-art style to show up or be used more frequently but what I ultimately watched was a much more standard indie character movie. It almost seems like those moments were put in the movie to give it something that differentiated it from the rest of the pack of very similar stories but it wasn’t committing to that style as a whole. I still enjoyed the movie but no, it wasn’t well sold by the trailer and the rest of the campaign.