When it comes to undercutting her glam loveliness for the sake of a meaty role, Charlize Theron is the champ of champs. Meaty's the word: Having packed on the pounds and several tons of vicious attitude to play serial killer Aileen Wuornos in 2003's Monster and shed a (virtual) limb or two for 2015's Mad Max: Fury Road, Theron comes to us in Jason Reitman's Tully lugging a baby bump so massive, you can barely see her bringing up the fleshy rear.
Lest we doubt her commitment to looking like most women do shortly after giving birth, there's a candid tracking shot from behind of her character — third-time mom Marlo — trying to outrun a lissome young athlete in the park. Like the rest of this maddeningly uneven movie, the scene is a little bit funny, a bigger bit cruel, and with it all, oddly moving.
Luckily, with Theron it's never just about the prosthetics or the visual gags. For her Marlo, it's all in the eyes, bleary with fatigue and the stress that comes with being the mother of two small children (one of them with special needs, though Marlo's too exhausted to see anything but the special) and trying to cope with the third, who seems never to stop crying.
On schedule, up pops the obligatory set piece where Marlo throws a fit in a school principal's office. Yet Theron plays even this scenario with the slow deliberation of a woman quietly nearing the end of her rope. Marlo's steady but preoccupied husband (Ron Livingston) isn't much help, and though at first she resists when her smug, well-heeled brother (Mark Duplass) presents her with a night nanny, she succumbs when the baby's arrival finally grinds her to a spaced-out standstill.