Pages Navigation Menu

"No matter where you go, there you are."


TIFF 2023 Review: Chuck Chuck Baby – “A film for anyone that sings with reckless abandon”

Annabel Scholey in CHUCK CHUCK BABY. Courtesy of TIFF

To call Chuck Chuck Baby a musical is a bit of a stretch.  At best it’s a jukebox musical for the less musically inclined.  It’s a film for anyone that sings with reckless abandon in the car, who hums along at work, especially if it’s not particularly in tune.  It’s for anyone who’s ever heard a song that perfectly matches your emotions at the time.  If you’ve ever heard a song and been transported back instantaneously to a moment from the past, then writer-director Janis Pugh‘s film will likely speak to you.

That’s not to say the cast has the best singing skills.  They simply sing along to a tune.  Sometimes they don’t know all the words, or cannot find them in moments of overwhelming emotion, allowing the backing track to take over.  It makes the times they’re singing feel more organic, more realistic in a way.  Neil Diamond’s lyrics aren’t always top of mind after all.  Yet, some may wish this film had committed to being a full-blown musical, or dropped that component altogether.

Check out all of our TIFF coverage

However, strip the music away and Chuck Chuck Baby is a romantic comedy that follows most rom-com arcs.  In this case, our main protagonist is Helen (Louise Brealey).  She lives in a house owned by her mother-in-law, Gwen (Sorcha Cusack) who is terminally ill and requires her care, but with whom she shares a special kinship.  Also, there is Helen’s absolute waste of space husband, Gary (Celyn Jones) who never lifts a finger to help his mum, his current girlfriend, whose eyebrows make more of an impression than she does, and their baby.

Needless to say, Helen and Gwen feel like prisoners in their own home.  Most days, Helen leaves to work a shift at the chicken processing plant, alongside a wonderful group of friends who make the mundane job bearable.  Barely.

Then one day a ray of sunshine in the form of Joanne (Annabel Scholey) returns to town to empty her deceased father’s home next door to Gwen’s.  Together, Helen and Joanne recognize the feelings they had for each other in their teen years, and their fast friendship turns into something more, making up for lost time. The question is whether each can overcome their respective traumas and whether too much time has passed for them to arrive at a new beginning.

With lovely, honest performances from Scholey and Brealey, Chuck Chuck Baby becomes a delightful love story with different layers.  Whether or not it’s scenes that show the love between Helen and her mother figure Gwen, the love between close friends, or romantic love, women and all the different relationships that make up their support system and family are front and centre here.

While the film doesn’t reinvent the rom-com wheel and the interesting use of music will be divisive to some, in the end, Chuck Chuck Baby is a crowdpleaser that will put a smile on your face.  Kudos to Pugh for being committed to her ideas, for creating a film that will have you laughing, and maybe even have you reaching for a tissue by the end.  You may also never look at a roast chicken the same way again.

Chuck Chuck Baby had its international premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival Friday September 8th, 2023.  For more information please head to

Previous PostNext Post


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.