What family is considered normal anymore? Most families now put the fun in dysfunctional, especially when it comes to family functions. As the old saying goes, it is all fun and games until a clown falls down dead in your driveway. "Birthday Cake" is a festival favorite that shows the fun and hysterics that go into planning a toddler's birthday party.
"Birthday Cake" is the feature length film follow up to 2012's mockumentary short "Groom's Cake," checks in with Steven and Daniel as they prepare for the first birthday party of their daughter. As with any good family get together, insanity ensues.
Darnell has crafted an instantly quotable and touching film that has enough biting humor to keep it from ever steering into a mushy family territory. The film does take unnecessary detours, mainly when Daniel is called into work to deal with a diva tantrum by Jane Badler (as herself). While her song is entertaining in a so wrong it's amazing, it feels like the entire segment is filler material to pad the running time of the film.
On the other hand, actress Helen Shaver brings an additional depth in her role of Daniel's estranged mother. With subtle acting choices, Shaver is heartbreaking as she attempts to overcome her sheltered religious life to make amends with her son.
On the copy of the DVD sent for review, the film was included while the menus and special features were not. However, for additional viewing, the promotional spots are fun and actor Rib Hillis gets naked in one of them. "Birthday Cake" also does a quick recap for anyone who didn't catch the short, though it is available to view on the "Birthday Cake" website.
For anyone who has ever had an uncomfortable family get together, "Birthday Cake" is must see viewing. Whether you can empathize with the characters' struggles or just sympathize with them, you will also find yourself laughing through the madness. So pull up a chair and enjoy a piece of birthday cake!