A film review by Craig J. Koban December 12, 2012


2012, R, 98 mins.

Tommy: Paul Schneider / Audrey: Olivia Munn / Wade: Kevin Heffernan / Darrell: Wood Harris / Zig-Zag: Nat Faxon / Karen: Aisha Tyler / Allison: Collette Wolfe

Millennium Entertainment presents a film directed by Jay Chandrasekhar / Written by Peter Gaulke and Gerry Swallow

You would think that modern day film writers and directors would have learned from the mistakes of the 1992 Corbin Bernsen/Shelly Long vehicle FROZEN ASSETS, which was a most unremarkable and mostly terrible sperm-bank-themed comedy.  To me, using a sperm donor bank as a primary source of laughs in a comedy is the height of desperation; you just know that you are going to get a disagreeably steady supply of jokes and pratfalls involving penises, testicles, scrotums, vaginas, masturbation, and sex of various types being hurled at us in a mediocre and juvenile attempt to milk (no pun intended) chuckles out of audience members.  

THE BABYMAKERS – which is made, by my reckoning, utilizing two of the five members of the Broken Lizard comedy troupe – is just such a film that pummels viewers senselessly and mercilessly with every type of strained sexual innuendo/sperm-centric gag in the proverbial book to the point of submission.  Yes, we get oh-so-many jokes about dicks and “stroking the bishop,” but the film also shows scene after scene of genital trauma (things being hurtled at the groin…my…how funny!) alongside would-be uproarious gags involving everything from Chinese toddlers, homosexuals, anal and oral sex, inter-species erotica, stolen kidneys, Indian mafia criminals, and so on and so on.  I’m not offended by crudeness at all, but THE BABYMAKERS sets the bar decidedly low for unfunny poor taste. 

The film makes great waste of its two main leads as well: Audrey (Olivia Munn) and Tommy (Paul Schneider) have just celebrated their third wedding anniversary and both decide that it’s time to have a buddle of joy all to their own.  Try as they may – for a period of nine months – but Tommy just seems to be shooting blanks every time, failing to impregnate his increasingly anxious wife.  Even worse is that is inability to knock up Audrey has become the stuff of gossip among his friends and family.  When the couple decides to go get themselves checked out by their doctor, Audrey is perfectly fine, whereas Tommy is diagnosed with “lazy sperm” that just won’t get the deed done.  Tommy finds this impossible to believe, seeing as he made innumerable $80-per-sperm donations before he was married to fund the rather expensive engagement ring he bought his wife. 



Alas, his past has snuck up on him and now Tommy realizes that he shot out his best baby-making juice years ago.  This makes him more than desperate, realizing that if Audrey finds out about his past clandestine donations that it could hurt their marriage.  He does discover, however, that his man seed is still at the local clinic, so her hatches a plan initiated by one of his moronic friends (Kevin Hefferman, BROKEN LIZARD member number 1) to hook him up with a, yes, former Indian mob member named Ron Jon (Jay Chandrasekhar, Broken Lizard member number 2, also serving as director here) to plan a daring late-night raid of the sperm bank to retrieve the last few remaining vials of Tommy’s liquid manhood. 

THE BABYMAKERS only begins to generate a modest level of comedic momentum when, oddly enough, the director himself appears in the film.  Chandrasekhar – when allowed to be – can be really funny, and his extended cameo here as an Indian gangsta with many a skill set gives the film some much needed guffaws.  He’s a very proud Indian as well, especially when it comes to not only his ethnic roots, but also about his past as a criminal.   Tommy’s buddies seem to laugh at the prospect of Ron being a killer in the same vein as, say, an Italian mobster, but Ron puts them all in their place rather quickly.  Yes, he can “drive a cab and fix a computer,” but he’s also capable of “slitting a man’s throat.”  Chandrasekhar – along with his BL buddy Hefferman, who has a field day playing a bubbling moron – makes THE BABYMAKERS amusingly tolerable in small dosages. 

The rest of the film around them, though, is a comic deadzone of feeble ingenuity where moment after moment of inane sitcom-worthy drivel is unleashed for what feels like a very long and tired 98 minute running time.  The film begins humorously enough, potentially starting off as an acidic black comedy of manners that deals with the nature of domestic frustration, but then it mournfully gives way to lewd slapstick that – when not pathetically going from one scene to the next of contrived misunderstanding – morphs into incessant and infantile gags about ejaculate, which seems like they were written by pre-adolescent boys.   When Tommy’s father-in-law finds out that he bought his daughter’s ring using his sperm donor money, he lashes out at him, “You bought my daughter’s wedding ring with beat-off money?  A cum diamond!?”  Hardy har. 

I feel kind of bad for the Munn and Schneider; they are good actors who dutifully play their roles with a level of straight-laced sincerity considering the crazed perversity that is transpiring around them.  Munn in particular is a real double threat: a drop-dead gorgeous and sexy screen presence that seems to have a good eye for light, goofy comedy, which, alas, is not really harnessed properly here.  When her and Schneider are forced to play moments of dramatic tenderness amidst the film’s litany of genitalia and sperm jokes, it seems really, really out of place.  Judd Apatow has the market cornered when it comes to successfully marrying R-rated, f-bomb-dropping raunch with sweet sentimentality and likable characters we latch on to and care about.  THE BABYMAKERS –try as it may - fails miserably in this regard. 

I had such esteemed high hopes for Broken Lizard years ago.  I thought that their 2001 cult classic SUPER TROOPERS was one of the funniest films of its year, but pretty much every single BL comedy in its wake has been disagreeably bad in one form or another.  Chandrasekhar is perhaps a better on-screen comedian than a director, as his films behind the camera like the so-so BEERFEST, the positively wretched CLUB DREAD, the more wrong-headed THE DUKES OF HAZZARD, and now the mostly and criminally unfunny THE BABYMAKERS attest to that.  Films like it have proven, once again, that the sperm clinic/donor comedy genre needs to be cryogenically frozen and never thawed out for future use.

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