It’s just before The Drop hits the 15 minute mark that it finally reveals its title – in all its soap opera-esque, melodramatic flair – following a different needle drop of sorts when Lex (Anna Konkle) drops the baby daughter of her close friends onto the ground below. On her head, too, just to really drive home how staggeringly uncomfortable writer/director Sarah Adina Smith would truly like you to be.
Now, I should say – and so any potential viewer can unclench – the baby is fine. The adults involved, however, are supremely not. But to get to this tragic chain of events, we have to go back to where the clusterfuck of privilege and reality-detachment began. Lex and her husband Mani (Jermaine Fowler, charming) are a romantic comedy-ready adoring couple who are trying to conceive their first child as they run an ironically-named bakery (Carbs) in Los Angeles. It’s home for Lexi but a ways away for Mani and his Brooklyn-based family.
We quickly learn that Mani has assimilated himself in Lexi’s world, but the idea of spending a long weekend away in Mexico with her wealthy friends for a wedding is not something he’s entirely on board with, There’s plenty of history between Lexi and her crew – most of it seemingly quite sexual – but even she’s a little apprehensive in attending the getaway because, rather surprisingly, she’s been asked to write the vows for the couple, Mia (Aparna Namcherla), whose sudden interest in carrying firearms has everyone questioning her political views, and the more level-headed (and conservative) Peggy (Jennifer Lafleur), something she’s clearly uncomfortable with.
Theirs is the baby that Lex innocently drops in a moment of haze that she blames on reacting to an impending bee sting, and whilst Peggy tries to play devil’s advocate to offset the understandably raging Mia, and such an act sends Mani on a spiral as he can no longer see his wife as a motherly figure in any capacity, it’s the remaining friends in the group that have to make sure Lex doesn’t feel like a pariah over the act; that’s if they all stopped to think of anyone else but themselves.
Between Robin Thede’s self-obsessed TV starlet Shauna, Utkarsh Ambudkar as her clout-chasing husband, and Jillian Bell and Joshua Leonard (the latter co-writing the script) as the former city-turned-island lovers who are hoping to use the wedding as a chance to stage a presentation on buying shares of their island paradise, The Drop offers a wealth of awkward comedy and commentary around parenting, relationships and social status; Leonard and Adina Smith’s script operating on a more subtle level throughout though, opting for at-times venomous verbal comedy that doesn’t always require a loud telegraph in order to make the punchline land.
A comedy of manners that underplays its obvious farcical personality, The Drop may not always entirely take advantage of its nasty premise, but it’s perhaps because the film opts out of overt-situational comedy that it proves all the more entertaining, or at the very least, intriguing. Also, given the exaggerated personalities of the supporting players, The Drop knows it needs a sense of grounding in truly executing its comedic premise, and both Konkle and Fowler are more than equipped for the job, balancing performances that have us laughing with and at them during a situation that is anything but comical.
An understated comedy working with a heightened pitch, The Drop ultimately gets away with its central plot mistreatment as it leads to an interesting view on the different dynamics of relationships, whether that be between friends, family or your partner. No, we don’t ever want to think we’d drop a baby, but it’s never out of the realms of possibility, and this at-times biting black comedy at least has the stones to address such a taboo notion with, at once, a sense of respect and wicked sense of humour.
The Drop is streaming on Hulu from January 13th, 2023.