Dying for a Baby
"Vernie" is one hell of a frustrating movie because on one hand it is incredibly watch able despite some shaky performances, it has a strange beauty about it and a wonderful simplicity. Yet on the other hand this story which sees a man dying from cancer asking his best friend to have his baby as some form of "legacy" is so simplistic and unreal that it feels very wrong. In fact whilst not by any means a comedy "Vernie" is not a movie which you should take seriously because life is not as simple as this, instead just enjoy the semi fairytale romantic drama side of it.
Having been diagnosed with terminal cancer Sean (John Riedlinger) ask his best friend since childhood and one time girlfriend, Kristi (Amy Colon) a huge favour. He asks her to have his baby for him so that a part of him can live on when his time comes. Despite initially struggling with the idea Kristi agrees and so the complications start as not only do they have to go through the awkwardness of best friends having sex but also deal with those who don't understand why they are doing this.
As storylines go "Vernie" is a movie which is going to split audiences because on one hand there is this almost romanticism of Kristi having been Sean's best friend and one time partner agreeing to have his child as some form of legacy. Yet on the other hand it also feels incredibly selfish that Sean would ask his successful best friend to do such a thing for him knowing that she will end up raising their child as a single parent. You are either going to enjoy this romanticism or hate it and to be honest I veered more towards enjoying it because to be honest "Vernie" is not a movie based in reality, it's almost fairytale like with it's simplistic way of dealing with things. To put it simply issues in real life are not solved as easily as they are in this movie and as such it is all about the underlying emotion, the warmth of friendship which exists between Kristi and Sean that she would do this for him.
It has to be said that any movie which covers the subject of cancer is going to have a hard time because showing the harsh reality of the illness is not going to appeal to audiences. And as such "Vernie" takes an almost simplistic view of the illness, never really showing the reality of Chemotherapy or how cancer strips your body of life, just hinting at these issues. But in the context of the movie, this romantic drama it works, it keeps things simple, keep things moving and keep things light whether or not you agree that cancer should be treated lightly.
To be honest there are no great surprises in "Vernie" and much of what happens is telegraphed long before it arrives, you know that Kristi will have problems when it comes to Keith the young man who she appears to have been dating and you know that whilst Sean's brother Zack has issues over Kristi having Sean's child he will not only get over them but bury the hatchet before it's too late. It is a case that everything is seriously telegraphed in "Vernie" and within the first 20 minutes you can spot most of the little subplots and guess where they are going, which friend will be pivotal in which and so on.
And sadly it also telegraphs much of the humour, be it the darkly funny way which Sean deals with facing death in the face to the awkwardness of Sean and Kristi trying to get intimate as just friends. It's very much a case that "Vernie" is the sort of TV movie which has the potential to be a really good romantic drama in a similar ilk to "P.S. I Love You" but never escapes the clutches of feeling like a TV movie.
As for the acting well other than actually working well together Amy Colon and John Riedlinger are not that memorable as Kristi and Sean. It's not that they do anything wrong or that they're terrible, although a little shaky in places, it's just the script doesn't allow them to really make their characters multi dimensional. And with Colon and Riedlinger being the central characters it means that the rest of the cast are even more forgettable.
What this all boils down to is that "Vernie" is the sort of movie that you are either going to enjoy or hate because of the storyline. For me I enjoyed it, I enjoyed the simplistic and unrealistic tale of a man dying from cancer asking his best friend to have his child. I enjoyed the romantic emotion of this tale despite the fact that its grip on real life is non existent. But whilst I enjoyed it I can't say I will remember it because in reality "Vernie" is just another TV movie which is pleasant to watch at the time but never raises its game to be anything more.