A woman goes through the trials and tribulations of trying to conceive but her husband writes about it behind her back.
Ben Elton is set to revolutionise the small scale Brit film the way he revolutionised the sit-com with The Young Ones. Maybe Baby breaks the mould of... no, it's no good. While Ben Elton may have penned and directed this thirtysomething comedy drama, in his "old" age he's mellowed considerably. Based in part on his own experiences of IVF (and his bestselling book, Inconceivable), Maybe Baby is an uneven stab at a romantic comedy, surprisingly unsure in places about whether to go for the gag or the pathos.
It starts strongly in the comedy vein, then wanders towards drama as Sam and Lucy become increasingly desperate for a child - then goes off kilter with a string of misplaced cameos (Emma Thompson as "earth mother", Rowan Atkinson as a doctor and Dawn French as a nurse).
The best scenes are when the comedy comes from something real - the moment when Lucy walks into a hospital set to find the crew filming her life is a showstopper, painfully real with a killer punchline. But all too frequently the comedy is forced or non-existent and it's only a handful of good performances that keep the story from flagging.
To be fair, this is tough subject matter and credit has to go to Elton for writing a credible female lead - someone who is beautiful, complicated and all too human. Richardson is captivating, but playing a flawed heroine makes her at times hard to root for. Even more difficult is accepting her onscreen partner; Laurie falls far short of the British Tom Hanks, despite valiant efforts. Sadly, Lester's role as George, the best friend, is also underwritten, leaving him little to do except listen to Sam's moans.
Saving the day are the delightfully sleazy Purefoy as a rival for Lucy's love and Hollander in hysterical form as a trendy Scottish director. If only the rest of the film lived up to these performances, it could have been a classic.
A decnt stab at romantic comedy that is unfortunately caught between going for the gag and pathos.