(a film review by Mark R. Leeper)

CAPSULE: This film is very much a throwback to American 1980s and 1990s romantic comedies. Thomas Platz (Raphaël Personnaz) is told by a friend that a man looks better to women if he is a father. When a baby (literally) falls into his arms and he has to take care of the baby he decides to tell women he is a young father. THE STROLLER STRATEGY never gets near any real humor, but it has a pleasant whimsical tone. Rating: low +1 (-4 to +4) or 5/10

Thomas Platz has trouble finding girlfriends. This is hardly surprising since he is very much self-obsessed. Up to a year ago he was close to friend and lover Marie (Charlotte Le Bon), but she left the boy who would not grow up. In specific, he did not seem to want to marry and raise a family, so Thomas is still searching for a girlfriend to replace her. Then a friend tells Thomas a goofy theory that women are attracted to young single fathers. Thomas gets a chance to test the theory when a neighbor is hospitalized, and Thomas is the only person available to take care of her baby, Leo. The man who did not want to think about starting a family has to give himself a crash course in parenthood: How to diaper a baby he can find on YouTube, but for more complex skills he has to go to Bouncing Babies, a local school for parents of newborns, and Bouncing Babies was founded by his still-beloved Marie.

A script like this has dozens of possibilities, but most have been mined out by other films. Yes, when Thomas thinks about his life he will vacantly stare fixedly into space. Yes, babies need disgusting diaper changes. Yes, Thomas has to learn how to feed the baby and how messy that can be. Yes, he will learn that babies make bad smells. Yes, Thomas will claim to Marie that he is the father without first doing the arithmetic to figure when the baby would have had to have been conceived. Yes, he will lead a life of deception to maintain his lie. And since immaturity and self- obsession are his problems, is it any surprise he overcomes them in the end?

French filmmaker Clement Michel wrote and directed THE STROLLER STRATEGY. He seems to have sewn the story together from parts of other films. He did not provide a script with anything new to say. Clement seems to have just wanted something that would pass for an American romantic comedy and did not need any unique vision. He has one joke that provoked a joke, and that was a film reference.

There is one very non-cliché incident in the film that would probably not play well in the US. At one point for his own reasons Thomas kidnaps baby Leo from right in front of his sleeping mother. This is a little more serious than just trying to fool his girl friend. I do not know French laws, but it would be a federal crime in the United States.

Raphaël Personnaz who plays Thomas has a bland, unshaved look. He can also be seen--a little better tailored--as Count Vronsky in ANNA KARENINA (2012).

What is familiar to the film critics from the 1980s and 1990s may be more new and fresh to current filmgoers. And it may even be nostalgic for the older viewers. On the right audience this film would do well. The film is not doing well with United States film critics, but then they have a longer memory for film than most of the rest of the public. I rate it a low +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 5/10. The film is in French with English subtitles.

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					Mark R. Leeper
					Copyright 2013 Mark R. Leeper