SXSW 2012 Review: ‘The Babymakers’ Spawns Precious Little Comedy, Even Less Joy

By  · Published on March 15th, 2012

Jay Chandrasekhar’s twist on the bank heist film, The Babymakers, takes a somewhat clever and fun premise and buries it under muffled performances, piles of unfunny jokes, and a complete disregard for clarity of theme. The film is packed with all of the markers that we’ve come to expect from current Hangover and Apatow-inspired comedy – it’s raunchy and dirty and even occasionally offensive – but there’s no bite or originality behind any of it, it just feels tired and wrung out. Chandrasekhar’s shtick has worn thin since his best and ballsiest comedy, Super Troopers, and lensing a flick from writers Peter Gaulke and Gerry Swallow (best known for stuff like Black Knight and Say It Isn’t So) hasn’t done him any favors.

The film centers on happily married pair Tommy (Paul Schneider) and Audrey (Olivia Munn) who decides it’s high time to conceive a baby. After months of trying, it becomes evident that there’s something amiss with either one or both of them, and when they discover it’s Tommy and his “confused sperm,” he lets slip that there’s no way that could be so. After all, he paid for Audrey’s engagement ring with money from donating his sperm for twenty weeks in a row. Oh – oops! She didn’t know that. Determined to win back his wife, Tommy and his pack of moronic pals (including Kevin Heffernan and Nat Faxon) cook up a plan to rob the sperm bank that’s holding Tommy’s last batch hostage, with help from a former Indian mobster, played by Chandrasekhar himself. Hijinks and raunch and stupidity ensue, but little of it is actually funny and the whole enterprise is essentially demeaning to everyone involved with it.

The acting is by and large atrocious, though lead Paul Schneider probably comes away looking the best of the lot. Schneider is a consistently underrated actor who is capable of much more than this – while his dramatic turn in David Gordon Green’s luminous All the Real Girls is his standard-bearer, he’s turned in some overlooked comedic performances, particularly in the underseen 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover. He spends most of The Babymakers looking slightly uncomfortable while he waits to interject some of the film’s very few funny lines.

On the other side, Olivia Munn proves (yet again) that her talents are better utilized far away from scripted roles. Munn isn’t cut out to convey any deep emotions, and her seeming inability to close her mouth for long periods of time makes her pretty face not so much a distraction, but a complete annoyance. There are any number of actresses who could better pull off this role, and her casting is just one of many indications of just how consistently tone-deaf the entire production is.

Even the soundtrack sounds and feels cheap, with the score sounding much more like one you’d hear in a direct-to-home-video Ocean’s Eleven knock-off or a third-string romantic comedy. The Babymakers as a whole is probably best described in those terms as well – cheap, flimsy, third-string, and a complete knock-off of other bigger and broader comedies that actually aim to make their audiences laugh.

The Upside: Scattered humor; a somewhat fun premise.

The Downside: Well, pretty much everything else.

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