The biggest delight of Day 2 of the Austin-based film festival was the world premiere of Barry Munday, director Chris D’Arienzo’s big-hearted debut about a rugby-wearing, boob-leering office drone who loses his testicles in a freak accident. Stay with me, people! Barry, played with great oafishness by Patrick Wilson, is a character straight out of the cult hit Office Space. He hits on women relentlessly, he loves a good Chili’s happy hour, he sings in the shower about how awesome he is. But in Wilson’s good hands, Barry is a recognizable and even endearing nitwit without being reduced to easy caricature. Barry loses his balls early on in the film, but soon finds out that a former one-night stand is knocked up with his kid. The woman with the bulging belly, whose face Barry can’t remember, is played by the marvelous Judy Greer.
The movie, which will draw inevitable comparisons to Knocked Up, is a surprisingly wistful and winning ode to growing up and finding one’s place in the world. What really made me want to stand up and cheer, though, was the sight of my beloved Greer getting a shot at material that required more from her than playing the plucky best friend. Here, Greer gets to play the woman at the heart of the story. Her Ginger Farley, a woman used to being overlooked by her family members and co-workers and men at large, is at once prickly and soulful. She gets to flex muscles – comedic and romantic – that have gone underutilized for too long. It’s always a treat to see a treasured character actor take on a starring role. In Barry Munday, a film in need of a worthy distributor, Greer proves once and for all that she deserves much, much more than stock supporting roles.
Who out there is a Judy Greer fan? What’s your favorite role of hers? (Kitty in Arrested Development? Back-stabbing Lucy in 13 Going on 30?) What other character actors would you love to see get a great starring role? Does Barry Munday look like a film for you?