Movie Review: The Babymakers (2012)
Halfway through director/co-star Jay Chandrasekhar‘s The Babymakers, the movie takes a hard turn from being one of the worst movies of the year to being one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. That isn’t an exaggeration. To this point, Chandrasekhar’s movie was a failing attempt at a Judd Apatow-styled raunchy-if-sweet romantic comedy, plagued mostly by flat line readings and an almost admirable belief in the endless humor of testicular trauma. Before Tommy (Paul Schneider) knocks on the door of a couple who’ve purchased his sperm from a bank he donated to years ago in order to afford an engagement ring for his wife Audrey (Olivia Munn), The Babymakers‘ only crimes were its catatonic script and a sleepwalking cast and crew.
And, honestly, it’s hard to blame anybody involved for their disinterest. This is the story of a nice, boring couple who want to have children, but can’t. They’re informed by doctors that poor Tommy’s sperm is lazy, insufficient material to impregnate even Audrey, whose reproductive system is the best the doctor’s ever seen. This is impossible, Tommy thinks, because he bought that engagement ring with money he made off of his sperm, and sperm banks don’t exactly hand out dough to anybody who can aim and fire into a plastic dish. But fine, he figures, there’s no use arguing against science. He’ll just go to the sperm bank and withdraw his own batch. In a classic good news/bad news situation, the bank has one tube of Tommy’s seamen left, but they’ve already sold it.
So Tommy goes to the couple hoping to use his sperm in an effort to buy back what was once his, and—SURPRISE!—the couple is gay! In the fifteen minutes following this reveal, Tommy is subjected to the horrors of homosexual domesticity. Worse, they’re patently greedy with Tommy’s sperm, refusing to give it back because a) one partner’s firehose-like ejaculate has a history of mental illness and alcoholism attached and b) the other is vain; he wants a baby who has his features, but also suffers from deficient sperm. This mild, tacked-on sequence of gay panic jokes culminates in the mother of all such scenarios: The vain one will give Tommy back his sperm in exchange for sex.
Taken on its own, the scene is unnecessary and offensive, but, midway through the film, it marks a broad tonal shift in material. For fifty minutes, The Babymakers is utterly convinced that masturbation is a good enough hook upon which to hang its hat. Tommy, who has no problem having sex with Audrey under the snack table at a friend’s party, is unable to masturbate knowing other people are lurking. He tries and fails to masturbate at the reproductive health clinic. He is horrified when Audrey encourages him to masturbate at home. He is interrupted by a pair of traveling ministers. His piggish, pedestrian fantasies are invaded by Jesus. Finally, having exhausted every possible teenage masturbatory nightmare, Tommy does the deed and leaves the movie without any further material. To compensate, The Babymakers moves on to making broad, stereotypical jokes at the expense of the minorities it contains, mostly gays, Asians, and women.
The second half of The Babymakers almost encourages drinking games. Drink every time a character says “Chinese baby.” Drink when a minority smiles or agrees to a joke made at their expense. Chug when the Chinese baby exhibits the prodigious talents all Chinese babies are espoused to have. It’s not that there weren’t elements of this kind of humor before Tommy had to suppress his gag reflex upon meeting a gay couple, but that it comes to dominate the film as it reaches its sperm bank heist climax. Considering that the purpose of this scene is to watch one of Tommy’s friends (Kevin Heffernan) slip and fall and slip and fall and slip and fall in the world’s largest puddle of semen, perhaps it’s just as well that The Babymakers doesn’t believe its audience capable of processing anything better than racial humor.
This is a rough film, a comedy built haphazardly with coincidences and tired jokes. It barely works on some levels (fucking up a heist at a zero-security location is at least mildly humorous), but flails awkwardly through the rest. Its depiction of male friendship, crucial given how integral Wade and Zig-Zag (Nat Faxon) are to the heist, is as believable as a beer commercial. Its leads, at times, look ashamed to be involved. Even the director, in his role as a career criminal with connections to a supposed Indian mafia, looks like he’d hate you, the viewer, for finding anything in The Babymakers funny. It’s hard to blame him, since so little of the movie aspires to be comedic.
The Babymakers. Directed by Jay Chandrasekhar. With Paul Schneider (Tommy), Olivia Munn (Audrey), Kevin Heffernan (Wade), Nat Faxon (Zig-Zag), Jay Chandrasekhar (Ron Jon), and Aisha Tyler (Karen). Released August 24, 2012, by Millennium Entertainment.
Paul Arrand Rodgers
Paul Arrand Rodgers has this blog, and that's about it.