I can’t say that I’ve ever been a fan of the Broken Lizard comedy troop’s films. ‘Super Troopers’ seems to be the one that’s most admired by their fans, but it never did anything for me. Director Jay Chandrasekhar has been the man behind their flicks for some time (along with the big screen incarnation of ‘The Dukes of Hazard’…the less said about that one the better, however), and he’s finally found a way to amuse me with ‘The Babymakers’, a raunchy comedy that also manages to get at some heartfelt points. It’s hardly high art, and too often plays it a bit safe, but it’s very entertaining and among the funnier films of the year so far (the recently released ‘Klown’ is both funnier and dirtier, but they’re hardly similar films). The film comes out on Friday, and I can easily recommend it with this Early Review to those looking for a good laugh. Chandrasekhar isn’t doing the best direction that’s ever been seen, but by leaving the scripting duties to others, the humor is a cut above what I’m used to from his flicks, though arguably still not that phenomenal. Don’t go in expecting anything incredible, but I found myself laughing perhaps more than I’d like to admit, and that’s enough for a recommendation here.
The plot centers around a young married couple and their attempts to conceive a child. Tommy (Paul Schneider) and Audrey (Olivia Munn) love each other, but it seems like his sperm is a little on the weak side. What starts out as a private matter between the two quickly becomes the talk of the town, with everyone having some sort of offbeat solution for their issue. This becomes a real stress on their relationship, leading both to consider alternative options. For Audrey, she’s potentially interested in adoption, but Tommy has a slightly more extreme plan. The whole reason behind how shocked his is that his sperm is problematic comes from the fact that he repeatedly used to donate sperm to a bank before they got engaged. When all else fails and it appears that there’s only one vile of his, well…stuff left, Tommy recruits his friends Wade (Kevin Heffernan) and Zig-Zag (Nat Faxon), along with the criminal Ron John (Chandrasekhar) to break into the bank and still the last hope of conception. Of course, nothing goes as planned and Tommy has to risk incarceration, not to mention Audrey’s wrath if she finds. Hilarity mostly ensues.
Paul Schneider is a rather talented actor, and while he’s never really given a time to shine here, he’s more than game for the broad humor and slapstick that Tommy participates in for most of the running time. He’s a likable guy, and it helps allow you to be invested in his character’s struggle. As for Olivia Munn, she’s playing a slight spin on the typical comedy wife, but she’s hardly at fault for not having the most original character in history. She’s charming and has very solid chemistry with Schneider. In fact, that’s the best part of the movie…their moments together. I actually found them to be one of the better screen couples of the year so far, and that’s saying something. I can’t, however, say much about the supporting cast. As broad as the movie itself is, these actors play their roles even broader and come off cartoonish. Broken Lizard cohort Kevin Heffernan is often just annoying (though occasionally amusing), Nat Faxon feels like he’s from an Adam Sandler movie, and Jay Chandrasekhar is, well…I’m not even sure what he’s doing. The rest of the cast includes Wood Harris, Aisha Tyler, Constance Zimmer, and Tommy Dewey, but no one is memorable in the least.
For a movie as solidly entertaining as this one, I wasn’t a huge fan of the direction or the writing…go figure. Jay Chandrasekhar can’t seem to resist pretending that he’s making an Adam Sandler movie (which might actually explain Nat Faxon’s character) and he even undercuts the sometimes touching serious moments with ill timed humor. He does manage to pace things well though, so it’s not all complaints when it comes to Chandrasekhar’s work. The screenplay, written by Peter Gaulke and Gerry Swallow never aims to be anything more than a silly comedy with the occasional serious moment, and in that regard it’s a success. I do wish that they’d embraced those moments a bit more and trusted them, but they didn’t, so it is what it is. Credit goes to Schneider and Munn for doing what Chandrasekhar, Gaulke, and Swallow couldn’t fully do.
In the end, you get what you put into ‘The Babymakers’. If you’re open to a simple and silly comedy, you’re likely to enjoy this. If that’s not your bag, then there won’t be much to like here. I may have gone a bit more negative than anticipated as this Early Review moved forward, but I’m still recommending the flick because it’s just plain funny. When it hits theaters this week, give it a shot if you’re in the right mood. ‘The Babymakers’ doesn’t revolutionize cinema, but it tickled my funny bone and could do the same for you.
-Thoughts? Discuss in the comments!