Review of Labor Pains

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A comedy in which a girl named Thea (Lindsay Lohan) pretends to be pregnant so that she won't lose her job.
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Movie Review: "Labor Pains"

-- Rating: PG-13
Length: 89 minutes
Release Date: July 19, 2009
Directed by: Lara Shapiro
Genre: Comedy

"Labor Pains" is the type of movie that many film-goers find when flipping through the channels late at night. Though it originally began life as a major motion picture, it quietly disappeared for a few years. The problems in star Lindsay Lohan's life didn't help the situation, and by the time the movie was ready, the producers simply cut a deal with ABC Family, and the show had its major premiere on the cable channel. While that might keep some viewers from watching the film, it shouldn't, because the movie does have some humorous moments.

Thea Clayhill (Lohan, "The Parent Trap") is a single woman who has no boyfriend, no real friends, and she's about to lose her job. When her boss (Chris Parnell, "Saturday Night Live") calls her into his office to fire her, she flashes back to an episode of "Law & Order" that she recently watched. Knowing that it is illegal to fire a pregnant woman, she looks him right in the face and tells him that she's pregnant. Her boss backs down, but now she needs to find a way to keep her ruse going.

Thea convinces her best friend Lisa (Cheryl Hines, "Curb Your Enthusiasm") to help her, and the two use a fake baby bump to fake her pregnancy. When her boss leaves town for a few weeks, his sexy brother Nick (Luke Kirby, "Take This Waltz") becomes her boss. Despite falling in love and beginning a relationship with Nick, Thea still refuses to tell the truth about her pregnancy. Even when her sister Emma (Bridgit Mendler, "The Clique") confronts her in the middle of her baby shower, she still lies to everyone she loves. In the end, Thea must choose between her fake baby and her real life.

While "Labor Pains" won't win any major awards, it is a mildly entertaining little romantic comedy. This was one of the first films Lohan shot after the disastrous "I Know Who Killed Me," which many critics panned. The previous film took the actress away from the cute comedies like "Mean Girls" that won her praise from millions of fans. This film is far better than "I Know Who Killed Me," and it puts Lohan back in fine form.

The main problem with "Labor Pains" is that the director seemingly didn't care about the final product. Lara Shapiro served as co-writer and director, but she had few credits before this film, mainly short films. Her co-writer Stacey Kramer had even fewer credits, which included several episodes of lesser-known television shows. While Kramer might be responsible for the clichés and awkward one-liners in the movie, Shapiro is responsible for how the finished product looks. There are moments in the film where the main actors literally look bored, which takes the viewer out of the film.

Though the actors do their best, it seems clear that many of the leads are miscast. Lohan plays a career-driven woman who will do anything to keep her job, but that image is difficult to reconcile with her off-screen persona. Kirby looks the part of a wealthy and successful businessman, but he looks so tired and bored for much of the movie that it's hard to find his character believable. It doesn't help that the film wants the audience to root for the couple even though they share little on-screen chemistry.

The real standouts in the film are Hines and Mendler. Mendler is the perfect foil for Lohan, and she steals every scene that they share. When the two argue at the baby shower and Mendler rips the baby bump out of her clothing, viewers might find themselves rooting for her character. She ups the ante even more by tearing apart the fake bump, and that scene alone will have viewers forgetting about the uncomfortable scene where Lohan's character fools her loved ones by placing a balloon in her shirt.

Then there's Hines, who gives comedic gold to anything she touches. Even as the best friend who has to help a friend, Hines brings a lightness and humor to the role. When she shares scenes with Lohan, all eyes are on Hines. Even Janeane Garofalo ("Southland Tales") turns up in the film, playing a talk-show host who helps Thea find her way.

While so many reviewers focused on the negative things about "Labor Pains," few highlighted the best features of the film. This is a great little film for fans of Lohan and anyone who loves a cute romantic comedy. Though it's predictable and a little slow at times, it has a fun story and some excellent acting.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars