The Babymakers

by Jake Mulligan

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday August 3, 2012

Paul Schneider and Olivia Munn
Paul Schneider and Olivia Munn   

Your enjoyment of "The Babymakers," the latest film from Jay Chandrasekhar and the Broken Lizard crew ("Super Troopers," "Beerfest,") will depend entirely on whether or not you find the concept of sperm innately funny. Do you think the word itself is hilarious? Do you think the way we store it for the sake of artificial insemination is just comedy gold? Did you wish "There's Something About Mary" was just a feature-length extension of the semen-in-hair joke? If the answer is no (and I sure hope it is) then you're going to find nothing worth watching in this insipid "comedy".

Paul Schneider and Olivia Munn star as a very-in-love couple having a very hard time trying to make a baby. He knows he can't be shooting blanks, because he sold sperm to pay for her engagement ring (no prizes for predicting that will cause a major 3rd act conflict.) After a series of misunderstandings that makes one wait 45 minutes before the actual plot starts up, Schneider and his buddies decide to employ a member of the "Indian Mafia" (Chandrasekhar) to help them rob the sperm bank for his original sample that he can use to win back his wife through insemination. I promise you, I'm not making this up: this is a movie someone paid to make, and assumed other people would pay to see. I'm at a loss.

What is even leading people to make these movies? Was "The Switch" secretly some kind of cultural phenomenon? "The Babymakers" not only assumes that there's a market out there for a sperm comedy, but it assumes there's an audience for a sperm-comedy-with-heart. My guess is that anyone rolling in laughter at the idea of a chubby man flopping around helplessly on a floor covered in sperm samples won't really care if the film fulfills romantic comedy conventions as well. And indeed, the only time the film is worse than when it's trying to gross you out is when it's trying to warm your heart with reconciliations and baby-related-happiness.

It just feels so damn insincere. After "Babymakers" spends the previous 90-minutes wallowing in racist, homophobic, and sexist humor, no one wants to see it try to warm our hearts. I won't go so far as to call the film itself bigoted; there's clearly some self-awareness in all the satire (Chandrasekhar has always dealt in such themes, for better or worse.) But did this world really need a subplot where a married gay man tries to have sex with an unwilling straight guy - because they look alike? Insinuating that all gay men really want to do is fuck themselves? Maybe if it were funny, I could forgive how moronic it is. But there's not a laugh in sight.

It doesn't even feature the inspired alternate-universe zaniness that made those 'Broken Lizard' comedies moderately fine in the first place. To even refer to this as "Spermfest" would feel like an insult to the over-the-top-ridiculousness of "Beerfest" - and I didn't even like that movie! This feels like the comedy team trying to have their cake and eat it too - to please general audiences with Munn's romantic side and a standard look/plot construction, while pleasing their own fans with a lot of jerking-off humor. Hint: no one leaves happy.

So is "The Babymakers" the worst film of the year? I suppose not. Its failed attempts at humor and its half-hearted bigotry don't offend me nearly as much as, say, the disturbing sexual politics at play in "This Means War," or the corporate-minded franchise baiting of something like "Battleship." But it's never a good sign when a movie really starts conjuring up thoughts of "who the hell would pay for this?" This is a painful, predictable chore to sit through. Our main character's biggest problem is his "lazy" sperm. My problem is lazy filmmakers.