Matt Pais, @mattpais
RedEye movie critic
June 21, 2012
*** (out of four)
For an idea of what to expect when you're expecting, don't see “What to Expect When You're Expecting.” Instead check out “Be Good,” another honest, homegrown effort from Chicago writer-director Todd Looby (2009's excellent “Lefty”).
Shot primarily in Ravenswood Manor, the movie confronts an incredibly ordinary situation: Mary (Amy Seimetz) returns to her job following her maternity leave, while her husband, Paul (“Lefty” star Thomas J. Madden), cares for sleepless, 6-month-old Pearl and struggles to complete a screenplay. He wants to work more; Mary wants to work less. The tension that develops between this proud, exhausted couple creates resentment and a vivid glimpse into shifting priorities with far more clarity than the usual star-powered Hollywood effort about the difficulties of marriage and parenthood.
Running only an hour, the stressed-out movie still needs room to breathe. The legend of a ghost at Mary's office particularly feels condensed to the point of incoherence. Yet filmmaker Joe Swanberg (playing himself) delivers a nice cameo, making Paul jealous that Joe can raise a young kid and still be productive.
This small movie recognizes the love and frazzled demands felt by new parents reorganizing their schedule around a tiny poop machine—which counts for so much more than the usual crap these adults deal with everyday.
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