THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan
Beware the comedy about fertility treatment. Few subjects offer such abundant opportunities to veer into cheap, easy jokes. It can be hard for a filmmaker to resist the temptation. A scene needs a laugh; you're dealing with sperm, and masturbation, and strange insemination instruments. What are you going to do? The Babymakers is just the latest comedy to see these sorts of things and take the easy way out. While it does manage a few decent laughs, too much of the movie consists of middle school humor. Beavis and Butthead would find it hilarious.
Paul Schneider and Olivia Munn play Tommy and Audrey, a happily married couple. They decide it's time to start a family, but are immediately foiled by Tommy's “confused sperm,” which swim erratically and away from her eggs. Growing increasingly desperate to give his wife the baby she wants, Tommy remembers that, five years previously, he earned a few quick bucks as a sperm donor. When conventional attempts to retrieve that sperm fail, he and his lunkhead friends (Kevin Heffernan and Nax Faxon) team up with an alleged member of the “Indian mafia” (Jay Chandrasekhar) to rob the sperm back and get his sample back.
Yep, The Babymakers is about a bunch of guys planning to steal sperm. Is it any surprise that it takes every available opportunity to engage in juvenile antics? The humor grows more and more broad as the film goes on, up to and including the moment in which sperm is spilled and slipped on. (Of course that happens!) Things additionally get bogged down with the mafia guy, an intentional caricature that nevertheless feels woefully out of place in what is ostensibly a human comedy. Then there's the whole finale, which involves police chases and full-frontal male nudity, among other things. The more out-there it goes, the less funny the movie becomes, because it loses all relatability. By the end, it's impossible to identify with the characters or situations any longer, so any investment in the story largely goes out the window. It didn't have to be this way. Some of the early scenes, which deal with the frustration of fertility problems, are actually quite funny because they feel grounded in some sense of reality. But the longer The Babymakers plays, the more reality starts to be something you can only see in the rearview mirror.
Chandrasekhar, who also directed, gives the movie a brisk pace, and the lead actors are pretty good. Paul Schneider brings a darker edge to the character than I expected (in the kind of role you'd expect someone like Adam Sandler to play), while Olivia Munn projects a sweetly likeable quality as his more-understanding-than-she-should-be wife. They do what they can with a plot that's content to stay at surface level, never truly working for big laughs when easy ones can be grasped instead.
( out of four)
The Babymakers is rated R for crude and sexual content, brief graphic nudity, language and some drug use. The running time is 1 hour and 35 minutes.
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