Calling Infinity Baby a sci-fi film is like calling The Shining a romance.
Like, sure, some of the plot errs towards that genre, but ultimately it’s far from what the film’s trying to be. With Bob Byington’s latest oddball indie flick, you’ve got roughly 1,000 babies that don’t age beyond three months on account of their stem cells being experimented on. Nick Offerman’s ‘Neo’ runs the company that is trying to ship these titular ‘Infinity Babies’ off to budding parents, and his nephew – Kieran Culkin – is something of a supervisor in the company.
However, remove the concept of the actual Infinity Baby, and the film largely remains the same; it’s a character study about the desire to never grow old, which is embodied perfectly in the infinitely youthful infants. Kieran Culkin’s Ben remarks how he “doesn’t love women; I need them,” and his desire to never commit to one girlfriend parallels the baby’s inability to mature.
These are some pretty universal themes, which makes the film initially come across as a relatable comedy with moments of emotional drama sprinkled in. And it would be great, were these themes properly explored. Unfortunately, screenwriter Onur Tukel picks up and abandons certain ideas seemingly on a whim, which results in a short (70-minute) film that, while never boring, feels misdirected at best.
Take Malcolm (Martin Starr) and Larry (Kevin Corrigan), for example. They act as the underlings beneath Ben, whose job it is to deliver the babies to prospective parents. Through a series of shenanigans, Malcolm ends up *potential spoilers* blinded. “Okay,” you think, “this could be going somewhere.” Unfortunately, this somewhere is just a fairly on-the-nose monologue near the film’s conclusion. Ultimately, Malcolm’s blindness feels like it was included purely to have conjecture about what it means to really see the world – to be polite: it’s all rather ham-fisted.
That’s not to say Infinity Baby is without merit. As expected, Nick Offerman offers some of the funniest dialogue throughout the whole movie, and his scenes in which he’s interviewing a potential employee are genuinely hilarious. And while it occasionally slips into well-tread territory, Ben’s arc and his troubles with maintaining a relationship are easily the most fleshed-out that the film has to offer.
I have no clue as to what the budget on Infinity Baby was, but I can’t imagine it was tremendously high. While this isn’t always noticeable, there are aspects of the film which could have benefited from more consideration. The soundtrack, for example, seems like Bob Byington stuck a playlist on shuffle and noted down every other track; it isn’t terrible, but feels oddly disjointed at parts. The same can be said for the dialogue and editing, which sometimes cuts between two characters earlier than you’d expect. This results in some dead air that increases the already awkward tone – particularly with the aforementioned characters of Malcolm and Larry. Perhaps it’s intentional, but it certainly didn’t help the film flow as seamlessly as it could have.
Credit where credit’s due: some of the camera work is admirable in its creativity. While it doesn’t always work (one shot has a woman laying down, and her head takes up a bizarrely minuscule segment of the screen), there’s some memorable imagery which really goes towards legitimising the whole thing. For a fairly underground director like Bob Byington I don’t know if he’d care about being ‘legitimate,’ but it’s commendable nonetheless.
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While it doesn't succeed on all fronts, Infinity Baby is a worthy effort at exploring the overwhelming fear of having to grow up.
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