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Labor Pains (2009) Print E-mail
Thursday, 23 July 2009
Image"Labor Pains" is a direct to video movie that originally aired on July 19th 2009 on the ABC Family channel.  The movie is being released by First Look Studios.  Unfortunately, despite an all-star cast, the movie tanks.  It is a fairly typical cable movie, but with probably a slightly higher budget than most.  The budget doesn't show in either the movie quality or the production quality.

Lindsay Lohan was a bright child actor.  She had a whole lot going for her, but she has seemingly drifted toward obscurity in her acting career.  Her personal life has taken front and center among the media.  Her breakout role in "The Parent Trap" indicated this girl was to have a bright acting career.  She has been swallowed by the teenie bopper film genre and unfortunately has made some rather poor business decisions in her last few films.

"Labor Pains" stars Lindsay Lohan as a secretary, Thea, to the editor of Steinwald Publishing.  She is supposedly supposed to be in her mid to late 20s.  After her parents were killed in a car accident she dropped out of college to take care of her "baby" sister.  In fact, her sister, Emma (Bridgit Mendler) looks around the same age as her.  Nevertheless, Thea works this dead end job to try and save money for her sister's college education.  She is behind in all her bills.  Thea's boss, Jerry (Chris Parnell) gives her fruitless tasks, such as bathing his dog.  She shows no real interest in her job.  When she and her best friend, Lisa (Cheryl Hines) are overheard in the bathroom by Jerry talking rudely about him, Jerry sits her down to fire her.  Quick on her feet, she says that she is pregnant, knowing that he can't fire a pregnant woman.

This white lie snowballs into catastrophe, as anyone watching knows.  There is absolutely no mystery to the film.  It follows a cookie cutter layout.  Knowing absolutely nothing about pregnancy, Thea tells them her due date is in October, making her four months pregnant.  Somehow Thea has remained skin and bones, with incredibly tight abs.  This immediately draws suspicion.  To remedy this she steals a belly from a pregnant mannequin.  So now overnight her belly pops.  Ummm, that's not the way it works.

After a freak accident smashes Jerry's dog, he takes off to a dog rehabilitation center to be with his injured little pal.  Meanwhile, Jerry leaves his accounting brother, Nick (Luke Kirby) as the acting editor of the company.  Nick has ideas to take the publishing company in a new direction.  While Jerry is away, Nick starts up a successful parenting division to the company.  She promotes Thea to editor of the division and all seems to be going well for Thea.  Oh wait, that's right she's not really pregnant.  How can we forget that.  So for all the good that happens to her we all know that it is just going to come crashing down on her when the truth finally spills out, which it always does the worst opportune time.  Oh yeah, an as to be expected Thea begins falling for her boss Nick. "Labor Pains" just doesn't cut it as a movie.  The only interesting thing to the movie is the cast.  They do what they can with what they have to work with, but it is very little.  Cheryl Hines is comedy in a bottle as usual, as is Parnell.  Mendler should have a bright future ahead of her.

The direct-to-cable/video movie comes to Blu-ray with a fairly standard video encode for a cable movie.  It is framed in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio, despite the case stating a 1.85:1 ratio.  The cinematography is uninspiring so there isn't much to look at in terms of video quality other than the usual.  The black levels are weak for the most part.  They constantly show up as a gray, never reaching the full depth of blackness.  The contrast level is not overly bright.  The image falls flat on the screen.  While the outdoor sequences of Los Angeles contain a lot of color it too falls flat.  Film grain isn't an issue.  Fleshtones are a bit sickly, giving a slight push toward green.  Textures are missing, but details are rather strong.  You won't find a stellar video presentation with this disc, but as far as cable-made movies go this shows up well on Blu-ray.  The image is not haunted by motion artifacts as the cable broadcast surely was.  Overall, this image quality is suitable.

The audio on the Blu-ray disc is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1.  A Dolby stereo track is also included.  The TrueHD track is also standard as can be when it comes to cable TV movies.  The audio is primarily located in the center channel.  Music is barely noticeable.  I believe I counted activity in the rear channels four times, and it was minor at that.  With a bustling city like Los Angeles activity should have been constant in the rear channels.  The LFE channel is weak as to be expected.  Dialogue is audible and clean, which I suppose is best you can hope for.  Frequency response is limited and dynamic range is virtually zero.  This audio track is perfectly fine for a TV movie but the hi-res audio track doesn't offer any upgrades from the aired Dolby Digital audio track.

For a straight to cable movie the Blu-ray comes with a few features.  First there is a making of featurette.  There isn't much in this section but the typical offerings of a making-of sequence.  There are a few cast interviews which can be interesting if looked at in the right light.  Lastly, the disc contains some photo galleries and some First Look Studios previews.

"Labor Pains" is a cute movie that is highly unoriginal.  It is definitely not the type of movie than can be watched many times over.  If you caught on cable last week then that is probably enough.  Actually, if you caught it on cable last week you probably wouldn't even be reading this.  The video and audio quality is subpar for Blu-ray standards but is better than most cable TV movies on home video.  My advice would have to be to skip this unless you are pregnant and want a couple laughs.

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