Mark Reviews Movies

The Babymakers


1 Star (out of 4)

Director: Jay Chandrasekhar

Cast: Paul Schneider, Olivia Munn, Kevin Heffernan, Jay Chandrasekhar, Wood Harris, Nat Faxon, Aisha Taylor, Hayes MacArthur

MPAA Rating: R (for crude and sexual content, brief graphic nudity, language and some drug use)

Running Time: 1:38

Release Date: 8/3/12

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Review by Mark Dujsik | August 2, 2012

One can say this about The Babymakers: It nearly perfects the concept of an idiot plot. No, that's not intended as a compliment.

Here's a story that depends entirely on the facts that each character is dumber than the last, that those characters have no short-term or long-term memory, that they behave in ways that only fundamentally resemble human behavior because human beings are doing them, and that nary a single character speaks to another in any way that could be misconstrued as trying to solve easily resolvable conflicts. Also, it's important to note that a major plot point involves not one but two characters being unable to find something that is literally right in front of them.

We could overlook these issues given a certain farcical energy to the material, but the screenplay by Peter Gaulke and Gerry Swallow offers the concept of jokes but never really follows through with them. The setups are present; the punch lines are absent. It's full of characters that could be likeable if only for the situation at the heart of the story, but they are so incredibly dim that there is no potential for connection to them.

At the center of the whole misfire is a married couple who, on the occasion of their three-year wedding anniversary, decides to have a baby. Even after three years, Tommy (Paul Schneider) and Audrey (Olivia Munn) are still in the honeymoon phase of their marriage; they're generally happy without any tension between them. This changes rapidly.

After several months of trying, Audrey still is not pregnant. They suspect something is wrong, but Tommy is certain it's not on his end. After all, he secretly donated sperm to buy Audrey her engagement ring, and the sperm bank would never take it if it weren't fine.

We can sense the conflicts coming from a mile away. For instance, it is unavoidable that Tommy will need to reveal his pre-marital donation activities to Audrey, and, given that he treats it as a shameful secret, we know she will not react kindly to it. This is a screenplay that can't limit its cheap disputes to the parties directly involved and must wait, instead, for the most awkward moment possible for Tommy to drop the bomb, like when Audrey's parents are over for dinner.

It's also not a screenplay to expect its characters to react rationally or even remember that there was an issue about the subject once the scene has passed. The topic of how Tommy bought Audrey's ring drops immediately once the attempts at jokes on the subject are out of the way. Audrey exists only to get angry when and remain angry as long as the script requires.

There are plenty of misunderstandings and overtly foreshadowed conflicts left, though. Eventually, Tommy and Audrey decide to go to the doctor. This means he must deposit his sperm for examination, and it leads to two sequences of Tommy attempting to do so. One is a throwaway gag involving pornography in his room (It starts appealing and turns decidedly less so), and the other sets up another inescapable conflict. In that one, Tommy accidentally leaves behind naked pictures of his ex-girlfriend, given to him by her current boyfriend and Tommy's best friend Wade (Kevin Heffernan), in the bathroom of his home while he attempts to rush his sperm sample to the clinic.

He didn't use the photos as an aid (Instead, he spotted a pair of voluptuous melons—yes, the fruit—in a food magazine), but it doesn't stop him from having Wade rush over to retrieve them, which leads to Wade hanging from the bathroom window with his pants around his ankles while Audrey showers inside. It's all innocent, of course, and it's also spectacularly forced and without any humor.

Audrey's works are fine, but Tommy's are not (A montage of him taking repeated hits to the crotch is offered as explanation, because, really, what else would anyone expect from this screenplay?). He decides to get some of the sperm he donated but comes across more and more complications, and there's even a stop at some gay panic jokes along the way (One part of the couple that bought the last of his sperm is willing to relinquish ownership for sexual favors). Eventually, the plan is for Tommy, his friends, and Ron Jon (director Jay Chandrasekhar), a former member of the Indian mafia, to break into the sperm bank and get what's his.

If one thinks this is the end of the snags, one would be wrong. The Babymakers is a nonstop barrage of ludicrously phony contrivances and comic setups scrambling for humor with no success.

Copyright © 2012 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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