We gave it a B
A comedy about pregnancy seems doomed to a particularly sticky circle of humor hell: How many jokes about maternity underwear and morning sickness can one endure? My original guess would have been about 1.3, but it turns out that Notes From the Underbelly, exec-produced by Barry Sonnenfeld, is no mere ”pregnancy comedy.” Underbelly stars Jennifer Westfeldt (Kissing Jessica Stein) as Lauren, a sensible thirtysomething who ambivalently decides to have a baby with her doofy, earnest husband(Peter Cambor). On their nine-month journey, they collide with all sorts of odd people, from the Stepford Wife whose business card reads ”Scrapbooker/Mommy” to the new parents who corner them like undead ghouls so they can reveal how horrific parenting really is. As Lauren’s cynical single best friend, Rachael Harris (Fat Actress) provides a needed blast of acid. ”Rainbows,” she snaps when a pregnant friend asks her to say something nice. Unfortunately, for every scene with Harris, there’s a grating counterbalance: Lauren’s other friend, baby-voiced Julie (Melanie Paxson from the Glad trash-bag commercials), a chipper, pregnant housewife who’s about as appealing as a butter mint stuck in the back of the throat — one of those irritating characters who exist only so we can roll our eyes and groan knowingly. Overall, however, Underbelly eschews cliché and makes pregnancy surprisingly laughable — including a very funny gag with a breast pump. A phrase I never thought I’d say.