Have you ever watched a movie and felt bad for the people involved? That’s how I felt watching The Babymakers, the new film from Jay Chadrasekhar, one fifth of the Broken Lizard comedy troupe. The basic ingredients are there for a decent movie-viewing experience, but ultimately things just barely register on the “meh” scale.
The movie begins with the film’s main characters, Audrey (Olivia Munn) and Tommy (Paul Schneider), celebrating their third anniversary at a restaurant. After a painfully strained conversation about butt sex, they begin discussing having a baby. What follows is a montage of the couple humping their brains out that results in no baby. Soon discussions turn to who has the bum sex organ. Naturally, Tommy is convinced that many kicks to the nuts haven’t affected him in the slightest because, in the past, he had so baby bombs built up inside of him that he was able pay for his wife’s wedding ring with the cash he made from 20 visits to the sperm bank. After several ludicrous attempts at spanking the monkey and engaging in only-in-the-movies experiments to get his spermies swimming, the couple decides to see if any of Tommy’s deposits are still at that aforementioned bank. Of course, there is one unused batch that a same-sex couple is on a list to acquire the following week. Unfortunately, the only way Tommy can get his hands on the scarce life goo is to have sex with one of them. He declines the guy’s offer, opting to rob the sperm bank with his friend Wade (Broken Lizard’s Kevin Heffernan) and a self-dubbed professional criminal (director Chandrasekhar). Hijinks ensue while Audrey sits to the side doubting her relationship with Tommy.
So what we have is a film trying to walk the tightrope of crude humor crossed with heart a la Judd Apatow and the Farrelly Brothers. The important thing about this equation is that you must care about the characters. Yes, Tommy is having a peepee problem and Audrey is hot, but neither of these things mean they are engaging. The acting is passable, but the characters’ disconnected conversations about outrageous shit feels like something from one of Jean-Luc Godard’s artier films. I don’t think that was Chadrasekhar’s intent.
The Babymakers may be the first film, aside from Michael R. Roskam’s moving Bullhead, where a character getting his nuts hurt didn’t make me laugh. Then again, that may just be a perfect example of how ineffective Chadrasekhar’s film is: even a lowbrow laughter-guaranteed piece of nut-endangerment slapstick fails to elicit a laugh from this easily amused dullard.
The Babymakers is also the first movie to make me feel distressing emotions akin to watching puppies and kittens peering through SPCA cages as Sarah McLachlan swoons in the background: sadness and annoyance. I felt sadness because it’s seeming more and more like Chadrasekhar and the rest of the Broken Lizard crew experienced lightning in a bottle with the goofy Super Troopers, which garnered acclaim for vulgar moments cloaked in a good-natured smile. While his latest directorial effort is not a Broken Lizard movie proper, it still has those familiar trappings of a Broken Lizard movie. Unfortunately, that familiarity didn’t keep me from disliking the movie.
The other emotion, annoyance, is derived from the many scenes in the film where Olivia Munn is in various states of teasing undress or coitus but never actually gets naked with her co-star Schneider (who also refrained from dropping trou). It’s saying a lot when the R-rated film’s main characters engage in and talk frankly about one subject (sex) yet are obviously not comfortable (i.e. getting paid enough) to shed clothing. It also says something about the film’s lack of quality material when the viewer is bored enough that he is more intrigued by the film’s blatant attempts to keep Munn Maxim sexy and Schneider in hump-mode without going for the full monty.
Jay Chadrasekhar’s The Babymakers could have been a lot better but, as it stands, the film’s pedestrian direction and the script’s lack of commitment to either a lowbrow sex comedy or solid character-driven satire ends up dissatisfying at all turns. As evidenced in Super Troopers, I can’t help but think he’s still capable of better. And that’s why The Babymakers sucks.