Paternity (1981)

paternity

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 1 out of 10

4-Word Review: Bachelor wants a son.

Despite managing Madison Square Garden, having lots of money and good looks Buddy Evans (Burt Reynolds) is still single at 44. He is happy with his bachelorhood, but still longs for a having a son. He comes up with the idea of paying a woman to have his child while treating it solely as a business proposition without any romance or relationship attached to it, after interviewing several ‘candidates’ he finally settles on Maggie (Beverly D’Angelo) a waitress who can use the money to further her education. Things are expectedly awkward at first, but as the process continues Maggie finds herself falling in love with him and trying to turn it into a relationship despite his reluctance.

Reynolds is a dynamic star with an engaging onscreen presence particularly in comedies, but his appearance here hurts the picture more than it helps it. For one thing it doesn’t make sense why this great looking guy with tons of cash can’t find a woman. And just why is he so reluctant to get into a committed relationship? What about this character’s background makes him the way he is? It never gets explained, but would’ve helped give the film more depth had it been. A better concept would’ve been portraying the character as being a rich guy who is also short, fat, bald and lacking in the romantic graces, but woman still tolerate because of his money, which would’ve ultimately made this more realistic, edgier and funnier.

I really liked D’Angelo and considered this her best performance, but having her fall in love with the guy and turning this into just another formulaic, sterile romantic comedy was a ridiculous stupid idea and makes it almost excruciating to watch. The guy spends the whole time acting like he owns her by telling her what to eat and do while being outrageously ambivalent to her feelings or needs. Any woman that would fall in love with a guy that her treats that way should see a psychiatrist and get some self-respect.

Comedian David Steinberg makes his directorial debut here and I liked the way he begins the film by having pictures of baby’s faces lining the screen during the credits all to the sound of them cooing and crying. He also pays loving tribute to his adopted city of New York by having some fabulous shots of the skyline and some scenic moments in Central Park that accentuate the fall foliage. In fact it is for these two reasons only that I generously give this thing a measly 1-point.

My Rating: 1 out of 10

Released: October 2, 1981

Runtime: 1Hour 34Minutes

Rated PG

Director: David Steinberg

Studio: Paramount

Available: VHS

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