I Got This

By Erik Bork | Comedy
A man discovers his daughter isn't his, then schemes to get DNA samples from 3 men.

Once upon a time, Chris and Jennifer dated. But then Jennifer got pregnant, and now she and Jack co-parent a little girl together.

But one day, Chris asks Jennifer to marry him, so they can make it official. But Jennifer drops a bombshell: Chris may not be the father of the daughter. And with no better options, she may move out of state with her daughter.

Desperate to keep them nearby, Chris convinces Jennifer to find the real father and get a child support settlement that will allow them to stay. But getting the DNA of other men proves trickier than expected, propelling them on an odyssey that's equal parts comical and touching -- and just a tad gross! -- to find out just who the dad is.

Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning "Band of Brothers" writer and producer Erik Bork makes his directing debut in this charming, heartfelt relationship dramedy that goes surprisingly deep -- and makes a few unexpected detours -- to look at just what bonds and connects families and loved ones together.

As expected, the writing is superlative, with an ear for wry, befuddled dialogue and a sensitivity to the real emotional dilemmas that the characters are grappling with. Balancing the emotional drama with the moments of comedy is a high-wire act, but the short does it well, whether it's in the tenor of the measured storytelling or the muted, warm visuals, which have an earthy, 70s feel that suits an almost shambolic narrative. Even the toilet humor of the film is on the muted side, and though it's played for laughs, it also is an important part of the plot.

The excellent performances of the two leads, played by actors Jack De Sena and Rome Shahanloo, also suit the understated approach, offering up flickers of genuine vulnerability, doubt and uncertainty that tempers the scatalogically-inclined turn the plot takes. Even when genuinely hilarious moments bubble up -- many of them courtesy of actor Anil Margsahayam as a lab technician -- we always are in touch with what's at stake for Chris and Jennifer, and especially Chris's drive to keep his family together.

"I Got This" is on the longer side of a short film. But in taking its time, it allows viewers the space to invest in the story and develop a wry affection for the foibles and quirks of its characters. It also allows time for the film's emotional arc to unfold organically. In the shared quest to find the daughter's father, Chris and Jennifer realize that it takes more than DNA to make a parent and a partner. It takes a willingness to stand by one another during the challenges of life -- and allow the process of that shared experience to change each other as individuals and as partners.

The film ends with a discovery, a surprise and a bit of a cliffhanger -- but it also ends with a heartwarming conviction that no matter what happens, this will be a family full of respect, love and partnership.

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