[Review] – The Babymakers

24 Aug

Title: The Babymakers
Year: 2012
Director: Jay Chandrasekhar
Writers: Peter Gaulke and Gerry Swallow
Starring: Paul Schneider, Olivia Munn, Kevin Heffernan, Nat Faxon
MPAA Rating: R, crude and sexual content, brief graphic nudity, language and some drug use
Runtime: 98 min
IMDb Rating: 4.2
Rotten Tomatoes: 10%
Metacritic: 30

I’ll start by saying a couple of things before I actually talk about The Babymakers. I’m a big fan of Aaron Sorkin‘s oft-criticized HBO show The Newsroom. I don’t care what the naysayers may say about it (some arguments against it valid, many others not really), I just adore the show, I think Aaron Sorkin doing television is something we should all be thankful for, I think Jeff Daniels has gotten the role of his career in Will McAvoy and he’s playing it to perfection, and I think the whole damn cast is stellar as well.

I say this in a review of a movie that couldn’t be less like The Newsroom because, obviously, Olivia Munn is part of the cast of that show, and she’s one of the leads here. And so is her co-star in this movie, Paul Schneider, who’s currently enjoying a recurring guest spot on the last few episodes of the show’s freshman season. Two actors from a show that I really like co-starring a film together, and two actors that I really like, plain and simple, show or no show. Ms. Munn is, obviously, a kind of goddess to geeks like me, but she can also act and she’s super intelligent, so it’s not as though the adoration is purely based on her level of hotness; and Mr. Schneider was stellar in David Gordon Green‘s All the Real Girls, as well as in Bright Star and when he starred on NBC‘s Parks and Recreation.

So, yes, two leads here that I really, really like, and I’ve illustrated all of that just so that you can further comprehend my disappointment when I tell you that the film they paired up together for, The Babymakers, is just total crap. I mean, they are actually okay here, or at the very least totally game for whatever they had to do, it’s just that the film, co-written by Peter Gaulke and Gerry Swallow, totally wastes their talents on silly and/or stupid jokes, most of them being so embedded in grossness or raunchiness that it seemed as though the filmmakers thought that just because something was R-rated it would automatically translate into laughs. And that’s just so not the case; not ever, and certainly not here.

They play Tommy and Audrey, a married couple who’s been trying for a while to get pregnant, but when nothing seems to work Tommy comes to the awful conclusion that he may just be shooting blanks, and is scared to death that his marriage may really suffer and deteriorate as a result. And that’s when The Babymakers decides to become a heist film, as Tommy enlists a friend of his who used to be an Indian mobster (played by the film’s director), to help him rob a sperm bank to which he made some deposits years ago to get the money for Audrey’s engagement ring. It tries to be funny in how it spins the heist genre, and how it uses the R-rated stuff, and how it shows this relationship just going through all of this to have a kid, but it just never really works.

Even though director Jay Chandrasekhar has proven to be quite successful when directing TV episodes, working on some of the greatest shows like Community and Arrested Development, the guy just hasn’t been able to translate that level of success to his film work, being the director the unfortunate The Dukes of Hazzard movie, and The Babymakers won’t be the one that breaks that crappy streak. What’s worse is that he doesn’t even stick to his horrible icky, vulgar humor, but he also tries to be sweet in the scenes between Tommy and Audrey; a capable director might somehow pull that off (Judd Apatow‘s done it more than once), but in most cases than not, those two elements just don’t mix well together.

I hated that constant change in tone. I mean, maybe it shows that Mr. Chandrasekhar kind of knew that his raunchy comedy, which includes way too many shots of Tommy being kicked in the groin (to explain his hypothesis as to why his little fishies might not be working) was not going to work, so he tries to be all sweet and stuff. Of course you’re going to get a happy ending that you’ll be able to predict five minutes into the movie, and of course it will feel cheap and of course you’ll be frustrated by all of this. We, as an audience, really do deserve much better.

Plus, seriously, these actors deserve better. Ms. Munn, I think, is actually more suited for stuff like The Newsroom (in which she’s actually one of the best parts of the terrific ensemble) and not comedies like this one, no matter how ridiculously hot she is. And Mr. Schneider is the type of actor who from the minute you lay eyes on him exudes intelligence for some reason, which has served him so well in all his roles, but that totally hurts him here, a film in which he’s expected to be a regular raunchy dude. There are a couple of amusing moments, but for the most part you get clichéd characters in predictably gross scenes and that’s, to be honest, kind of unacceptable.

At first I thought I actually wasn’t going to fail this film because I like the actors too much to do so, but now after writing this, after remembering just how much a waste of my time and their talents this was, I really think I have to fail it. This is a thirty-minute plot stretched out to three times that, with jokes that are always too gross for their own good, and a director that never once shows confidence in his material or consistency in the tonality of his movie. Avoid it.

Grade: D+

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