Gayby is not without laughs – however while half the jokes do land, there is a realization the film is at its core a sitcom. It’s saving grace is that it has moments of honesty – written and directed by Jonathan Lisecki, Gayby is an adaptation of the award winning 12-minute short by the same name from 2010. The moral of the story – if you see Gayby with a sold-out crowd at SXSW or the Quad Cinema, you will probably not have a bad time, but if you watch it at home, you may switch the channel to see what they’re doing on Two and a Half Men instead.
Jenn Harris is Jen, an neurotic yoga instructor (a contradiction, you’d think – but I do know one of these in real life) hitting what we assume is her late 30’s, she is getting that material instinct and decides the father of her children should be Matt (Matthew Wilkas), an gay comic book nerd. Lisecki plays Nelson who has recently gained weight and grew a beard, trying to rebrand himself as a “bear.”
Jen’s desire at first is to make a baby “the old fashion way” – no turkey baster. Therefore Matt takes to the casual sex dating sites looking for a fluffer, that is until he meets Scott (Mike Doyle), a single dad who is in the process of coming out, not seeking a relationship, which complicates things as they do in romantic comedies.
You may be thinking this sounds an awful lot like another film (Jennifer Westfield’s Friends with Kids) about two friends who decide to have a baby because they’re friends and haven’t met the right one. Gayby is socially relevant and at times lands funny one-liners but it is locked within the dominant tropes of romantic comedy and perhaps even the subgenre of the gay romantic comedy. For a film such as this to succeed it needs to find its own voice, and writer/director Jonathan Lisecki’s moments on screen are amongst my favorite (he gives himself the best lines). Perhaps a whole movie – or an entertaining short about Nelson’s transformation – is where this story should have gone.