Ever wanted to know what happens when a man loses his testicles in a trumpet attack? Well Family Jewels, aka Barry Munday, explores this rare and heretofore unconsidered event in extensive, almost painful, detail. It reads as a love letter to testicles and a more sensitive, heartfelt – and occasionally touching – addition to the Manly Pride genre of movies. Bromances are all the rage in movies at the moment, which has led to all itertions of male attitudes and relationships being explored. Family Jewels looks at the delicate (pun intended) relationship that men have with their testicles, and what can happen when this relationship is severed (again, pun intended).
Barry Munday is our poor protagonist, played ably by Patrick Wilson. He is a typically male caricature of a desperate horny loner who ogles women every chance he gets. When he gets a come-on in a cinema, it sets off a change of events that leads to Barry losing his testicles, and as he faces life post-testes he is confronted with another life-altering event, involving his testicles, and the rest of the film is spent exploring these two issues in view of each other. The second story, involving a woman named Ginger Farley – Judy Greer in a chameleonic turn – who confronts Barry with papers informing him that he is the father of her unborn child after a one-night-stand, takes on a new and more significant meaning when Barry realises that these were, in effect, his last sperms and his last chance to carry on the Munday name.
The film begins with some quite funny observations on the male psyche, and carries on into deeper and more considered territory, all the while remaining relatively puerile and childishly humorous. Frequent jokes concerning various bodily functions and orifices sometimes detract from the tone of the film, but it’s the solid performances of the two leads that carry the film when it comes close to breaking down completely. In fact, the only weak element in the film is the usually brilliant Chloe Sevigny, who seems dull and bored throughout.
One of the nicest things about Wilson’s and Greer’s performances is that the characters actually change through the film, something that is often ignored in mainstream cinema. Barry Munday changes from a puerile child-man into a mature and loving father, almost in spite of Ginger’s constant haranguing and insults.
If you can’t guess the ending of the film from the get-go, then you’re not watching the film properly. It moves in a straight line from beginning to end, but the good performances are just enough to make it work. If you’re after a relatively childish, but also very adult, comedy film, you could do worse than this one.
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