Chaos ensues an island wedding disaster
There’s something so raw about the experience of preparing for a child: the hopeful expectancy; the teeth-gritting anxiety; the self-doubts. It’s such a minefield of conflicting but resonant emotions, I’m disappointed director Sarah Adina Smith didn’t draw on them more for The Drop, a Hulu original cringe-comedy about this very stage of life.
Smith got something right with the film’s premise, however: A hopeful mother-to-be drops her friend’s baby. There’s something inherently comedic in the utter failure and embarrassment of that statement–and yet there’s also room for an exploration of what it means to have a child, or–as The Drop more broadly explores–to have a family.
Married couple Lex (Anna Konkle) and Mani (Jermaine Fowler) want to have a baby to expand their family in Los Angeles, where they operate their own bakery. But a trip to a tropical island for some college friends’ destination wedding throws an unexpected wrench in their pregnancy plans. For a moment, when Mani and Lex each take hold of the future brides’ baby daughter, all’s right with the world as they feel a rush of love and protectiveness wash over them. Is this what parenthood is like? Until it happens. Lex’s hold on her slips; the baby falls to the concrete; the dread sets in. Is this what parenthood is like?
Don’t worry; the baby ends up fine, or this wouldn’t be a comedy. What’s not fine, however, is the shift in attitude at the pre-ceremony college reunion. While a fury-filled Mia (Aparna Nancherla) and her more forgiving fiancée Peggy (Jennifer Lafleur) stay with their daughter at the hospital, the remaining friends awkwardly dance around a situation that should be comically tense, but is flattened by corny dialogue.
There’s an attempt to make dark comedy out of all this (if you couldn’t tell by the baby-dropping). The film periodically revisits an overhead shot of waves juxtaposed with foreboding music, lending a dark undercurrent to the light comedy. It prompts tension and suspicion. It made me question whether the baby would be the only drop happening on this island vacation.
In the end, the tension has nowhere to go, and the undercurrent becomes more of a jarring crash against the tone of the movie as a whole. The darkest part of the film would be the difficult personalities Lex and Mani have to mingle with–their presence an attempt at commentary on intimacy and family that doesn’t quite find a place in the cringe-comedy’s ultimate message.
Despite the overbearing quality of the entire cast of characters, The Drop is really just about Lex and Mani, and their doubts about raising a family–or, at least, about doing so together. There was a more nuanced (and humorous) depiction of parental and marital anxiety to be had, but The Drop at least concludes with a unique and heartwarming message–the saving grace for an uneven, sort-of-funny comedy.
The Drop premieres on Hulu January 13 2023
Verdict - 4/10