Friday, August 3, 2012

Movie with Abe: The Babymakers

The Babymakers
Directed by Jay Chandrasekhar
Released August 3, 2012

Comedy team Broken Lizard is back with its newest film, with a handful of familiar faces in the ensemble and two wider-known faces in the leading roles. Paul Schneider, who appeared as Mark in the first two seasons of NBC’s “Parks and Recreation,” and Olivia Munn, who currently stars as Sloan Sabbith on HBO’s “The Newsroom,” play Tommy and Audrey, whose inability to conceive reveals Tommy’s infertility. Remembering the many sperm donations he made to pay for a fancy engagement ring, Tommy is inspired to reclaim his swimming sperm. As expected, hijinks ensue.

Best known for the 2001 film “Super Troopers,” Broken Lizard isn’t exactly known for its elegance or maturity. Member Kevin Heffernan, who here plays one of his most subdued and tolerable roles to date, as Tommy’s best bud Wade, was on tap to direct 2009’s “The Slammin’ Salmon,” which featured a mad dash for a big tip at a restaurant in order to ensure that a gangster got paid his due. The concept was clever, but the execution failed because of an emphasis on gross-out humor and excessive, over-the-top characters. Interestingly, that’s not the problem here. Instead, it’s the reverse.

A film rich in sperm discussions suggests plenty of opportunities for hilarious, if off-putting, jokes and visuals that viewers might find amusing and horrifying at the same time. Yet, aside from a few memorable conversations, the film is remarkably and disappointingly tame. Tommy and Audrey occasionally have explicit talks about sex, but they stop long before they become funny enough to merit booming laughter. On the other hand, director Jay Chandrasekhar has an outrageously loud and distracting part, one that demands an extraordinary suspension of disbelief for which the rest of the film doesn’t call. Nat Faxon, a newly-minted Oscar winner as a co-screenwriter of “The Descendants,” also plays a lamentable character, though he’s merely stupid and doesn’t demand all attention on him each time he appears on screen.

Both Schneider and Munn are gifted straight men, and it’s fun to see them surrounded by less intelligent friends, including Aisha Tyler from “Friends” and “24,” and Constance Zimmer from “Entourage.” Schneider isn’t entirely likeable, but it’s still easy to root for him and the successful reclamation of his sperm. Munn, like many women in a male-driven comedy, doesn’t get much of a chance to develop her character. They’re generally affable leads playing mostly endearing characters, but the film around them just isn’t spectacular. An R-rated comedy about sperm donations should be much meatier, and much funnier.


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