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‘Nine Months’ (PG-13)

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
July 12, 1995

"Nine Months," an innocuous heart-tugger about expectant yuppies, would be even blander if it weren't for the recent vehicular activities of its star, Hugh Grant. It's really too bad Grant's Sunset slip wasn't written into the script. And it might as well have been, considering the way this coy comedy plays the protagonist's pent-up urges for laughs.

"I am completely sexually frustrated," howls Samuel (Grant), a reluctant father-to-be whose pregnant girlfriend, Rebecca (Julianne Moore), won't sleep with him for fear the fetus might see what's going on and get scared. While Samuel throws up his hands and rolls his eyes, the audience makes up its own punch line.

Chris Columbus wrote, directed and produced this vapid sex comedy—his first project since the delightful "Mrs. Doubtfire." Like that film, "Nine Months" teaches the joys of fatherhood—a lesson the boyish Samuel resists until he sees his baby's sonogram and discovers that it is a boy. Suddenly, he realizes that there's nothing in this world to compare with having a family and the values to go with it. (You can't help but wonder how he would have reacted had the baby been a girl.)

But his revelation may have come too late, for the intolerant, prissy Rebecca has become fed up with him for missing another of her medical appointments and has moved out. Now Samuel must convince her that he's a changed man and win her back before her water breaks. Should he fail, the film will end without the farcical race to the delivery room pioneered by the Ricardos.

When Rebecca goes into premature labor and is hospitalized, Samuel rushes to her bedside to beg her forgiveness. "I was a disgrace," he apologizes. "You had every right to walk out on me." It could almost be dialogue from "The Tonight Show."

In addition to their gestational travails, the expectant parents are harassed by an onerous auto dealer (Tom Arnold) and his pregnant wife (Joan Cusack), the overbearing and indulgent parents of three ill-behaved scamps. And then there's Rebecca's obstetrician (Robin Williams), a recent Russian emigre whose malapropisms ("Let's go take a look at your Volvo") provide the movie's funniest moments.

Williams steals the show as the nervous delivery man, and Jeff Goldblum is also appealing as the hero's earnest best friend. Alongside these casual American actors, Grant's comic overreactions—the mugging, the stuttering, the fluttering eyelids—are too broadly vaudevillian. He's got more tics than Benny Hill.

Moore and Cusack are the film's liberal apologists, paying lip service to capable single mothers and the right to choose. Otherwise, this adaptation of the French "Neuf Mois" bottle-feeds us the same sticky pablum as "Three Men and a Baby," "Parenthood" and "Baby Boom."

In terms of sophistication, "Nine Months" harks back to the era of contrived, callow sex comedies starring Rock Hudson and Doris Day. It's the antithesis of the wry British comedies that have made Grant a star. It seems to be the summer that this Englishman went up a mountain and came down a heel.

Nine Months is rated PG-13.

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