I think it's probably pretty fair to say that "Manbaby" is straight-up childish. I mean, that IS what it's intended to be, after all, and in that regard, it certainly hits the mark. As much as I do my level best to be as objective as I can be in any review I write, I'll fully admit that glancing at the brief synopsis for this movie had me cringing a little bit in advance. But keep in mind that I'm one of these adult man-children myself, and I chose not to have kids because I genuinely enjoy my sanity. So, "Manbaby." If the plot sounds extremely far-fetched, I can only promise you that's because it is. Essentially, you've got stand-up comedian Sal, who is starting to make a real successful living - and getting himself a new show to support his character of diaper-wearing "Manbaby." Who, by the way, makes a whole lot of puns and decent jokes about being a full-grown child. That part is alright, and it worked well enough for me. You've also got Dana, the scientist/wife of our beloved "Manbaby," who is not only struggling with the idea of being attached to a dude that wears diapers for a living but is also vehemently resisting the idea of having children of her own, which Sal wants – desperately. To the point where he gets an ex-girlfriend to design a potion that he drinks, which transforms him into a permanent "Manbaby" – or at least, that's what we think at first. He does this to quell what seems like it's going to be a battle with Dana over this idea of starting a family - so that she'll have to take care of him as a full-grown "Manbaby" and somehow fall in love with that and want to have kids of her own as a result.
Now, cue the crying and the screaming … the two main ingredients that basically made my decision NOT to have kids extremely easy. If I'm being completely real with you, the idea that anyone would willingly want to watch a bunch of crying and screaming onscreen is tough to conceive. That's a real factor here – we might not spend a ton of time with "Manbaby" doing that, but a little is more than enough, you feel me? While the acting is … hmm … alright - you also have to ask yourself sincerely, how much time do you want to spend watching full-grown adults playing peekaboo? Ultimately, "Manbaby" will be a tough sell conceptually, no matter how you slice it. This leaves the potential audience very narrow, and then, of course - out of those that do choose to watch it, only a certain percentage enjoy it, and so on. The numbers aren't all that in favor of "Manbaby," and that's the reality of it.
While writer/director Tim Lightell does add some decent twists to the plotline, surrounding whether the potion Sal drank is real and what could happen if Dana made her own potion in the name of science (and let's face it, a little revenge perhaps), the story ends up becoming more of a literal kidnapping as it plays out. You feel the elasticity of this idea continuing to stretch as it searches for an angle to hook you in, which will take you much further into the future than you'd expect from where it all begins by the time it's all wrapped up at the end. On the brighter side of things, it's shot well by Lightell, the acting is on target for what a script like this would demand, and at the end of the day, "Manbaby" travels quite a long way from start to finish, and no one ever gave up on it; the commitment to the script stays intact. While that seems like a given when it comes to making movies, it's not. The less believable something is, the harder it can be for the actors involved to remain fully dedicated to their characters - and not visually be questioning how much to tap into what they're doing if things get a little ridiculous. Which arguably they do within this movie. So credit to them all for sticking with it because I think it would have been tempting to try and phone this in at times - as opposed to giving it everything they've got.
This film is also the lengthier side of what people may be able to handle - for what the concept provides in return, but Lightell does a decent job of maintaining the quality in the execution. I do have a responsibility to be entirely real with all you readers out there, though – "Manbaby" is indeed a verifiable challenge. It's funny, but not quite funny enough. It's got a whole lot of screaming and crying, and if that's your jam, then hey, no judgments here – this Bud's for you, partner. For the rest of us out there, I think we're going to view "Manbaby" as a two-stars out of five, as there's not quite enough to warrant the length, the concept, or the humor as its main asset. There's some growing up needed here, or at least some further evolution of this idea overall so that we're not the ones crying by the end.