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    Make Pretend

    Never a doll moment

    When the heroine of the slightly surreal drama "Make Pretend" decides it's time to grow up and have a baby, nobody wants to tell her it's only a piece of plastic.


    (Originally reviewed at one-time screening in 2001.)

    Every dysfunctional family is dysfunctional in its own way, Tolstoy might well have said if the word had existed, and the family members of "Make Pretend" are mildly out of their minds in a way all their own.

    Written and directed by: D.J. Mendel.
    Cast: Margaret Rose Champagne, Lisa Hickman, Colleen Werthmann, Ledlie Borgerhoff, D.J. Mendel, Frederict Newymann, Josh Stark, David Cote, Paul Lazar, Alice Mendel.
    Anthology Film Archives 32 Second Ave. (at Second Street) Wed., Sept. 10, 8:30 p.m. Shorts start at 6 p.m. $5

    New Filmmakers (2003)
  • Make Pretend
  • Schmelvis: The Jewish Elvis
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  • When we first see Baby (Margaret Rose Champagne, who's not a baby), she's in the middle of tedious sex with her sometime boyfriend, who swigs from a beer can while pounding away at her, takes some money from her purse on his way out the door, and has to double back to say, "I love you." And adds, as an afterthought, "Happy birthday." Some birthday.

    She decides it's finally time to change her life and become a woman.

    So how does Baby become a woman? Easy — have a baby of her own. And not just the find a guy, get married, wait nine months and out comes a baby type of baby either — this is the kind of baby where you grab the suitcase out from under the bed, dig through your old childhood stuff and just pull out a baby, a beautiful little naked plastic instant baby.

    Make Pretend  
    Okay, if you see your grown sister carrying around a plastic doll and telling everyone she had a baby, you start to worry that she's had a nervous breakdown and try to bring her down gently, right? Not so in this family.

    "God damn it!" screams Baby's sister, Sissy (Becky Werthmann). "It just ain't right that a fuck-up like you gets to have a baby! It just ain't right! I'm tellin' ma."

    In fact, she doesn't tell ma — instead, she and her husband, Skeeter (D.J. Mendel), steal the baby, creating their own surreally happy all-American family and sending Baby into the kind of all-out panic that you'd be in too if your baby disappeared.

    There's a lot more strange behavior and delusion in the lives of these modest people in a small Poconos town. D.J. Mendel (a talented actor who was recently seen on stage in Armitage Shanks in New York) has made a film that mixes absurd humor and serious drama. It's an oddly original and often touching story about tenuous family connections and human loneliness.

    AUGUST 21, 2001

    Reader comments on Make Pretend:

  • the baby simulator doll   from Kristina, Jul 26, 2004
  • It's GREAT   from Alice, Feb 6, 2005
  • [no subject]   from nicole baldwin, Apr 10, 2005
  • A wonderfully acted film   from Jeff Ryan, Oct 15, 2006
  • [no subject]   from Mike Hunt, Mar 30, 2007

  • Post a comment on "Make Pretend"