Posted in: Disc Reviews by John Ceballos on September 16th, 2012
As I was watching the new Ocean’s Eleven for the 185th time — it’s the last movie I saw twice on the same day in theaters — it occurred to me that the stakes were entirely too high. Three casinos…$160 million…the threat of being caught and glared at by Andy Garcia. The Babymakers, on the other hand, builds up to a heist with absurdly low stakes. It’s basically like Ocean’s Eleven, only the exact opposite.
After a few years of marriage, Tommy (Paul Schneider) and Audrey (Olivia Munn) decide they want to have a baby. We then watch Tommy try to get Audrey pregnant — strategic camera angles keep Munn mostly modest — without any success. Since it appears that Tommy is shooting blanks, the couple decides to visit a fertility clinic after receiving a bunch of advice from their respective groups of friends that I’m not sure I’m allowed to repeat on this site.
That’s when they discover Tommy’s sperm aren’t up to par. (Ouch.) When the doctor shows them an image comparing healthy sperm to Tommy’s sperm, Audrey remarks that Tommy’s sperm “look drunk.” (Double ouch!) What Audrey doesn’t know is that Tommy had paid for her engagement ring by making some deposits at a sperm bank. Following a few unsuccessful attempts to retrieve his healthy samples, Tommy — nudged by his loutish friend Wade (Kevin Heffernan) — decides the best course of action is to break into the sperm bank with help from Ron Jon (director Jay Chandrasekhar), a former bag man for the less-notorious Indian Mafia. (Now that I’ve written the word “sperm” more times than I ever imagined in a single paragraph, let’s move on. My parents must be very proud.)
Obviously, this is a deeply silly movie. (To drive that point home, there’s a montage of Tommy getting hit in the testicles.) Chandrasekhar and Heffernan are members of Broken Lizard — the comedy troupe best known for its films, including Super Troopers, Club Dread and Beerfest — but The Babymakers isn’t exactly a Broken Lizard production. (Although more than a few familiar faces pop up in bit parts, The Babymakers is written by non-Broken Lizarders Peter Gaulke and Gerry Swallow.)
Still, it’s not exactly a surprise that The Babymakers relies on raunchy humor. (Tommy and Audrey are casually vulgar with each other and with their friends; the climactic heist features the exact type of gross out gag you’d expect from a clumsy guy surrounded by a bunch of sperm.) Fortunately, the film balances some of that raunch with sneakily clever humor. Besides subtly deconstructing the ridiculousness of heist movies, the movie finds time to make observations about why there are no female serial killers and debate “to who” vs. “to whom.”
Schneider doesn’t have a commanding presence on screen, but he’s plenty good at delivering subtle, snarky jokes and makes for a decent straight man. (Most of the laughs come from the outlandish characters played by Chandrasekhar and Heffernan.) Munn is allowed to be cooler than the typical romantic comedy shrew, but it’s still an underwritten role. (We don’t get a great understanding as to why she decides she needs to have a baby.) The script is also more generous to Tommy’s buddies — which also includes Nat Faxon and Wood Harris (The Wire) — than it is to Audrey’s group of friends, which includes talented performers like Aisha Tyler and Constance Zimmer.
The Babymakers is undeniably sloppy — the central idea of robbing a sperm bank isn’t even introduced until well into the film’s second act — but that loosey-gooseyness and lack of refinement is part of its offbeat charm. It’s also what makes it stand out from the slicker, more formulaic alternatives playing at your multiplex.
The Babymakers is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. The 1080p image is arrived at with an AVC MPEG-4 codec at an average of 22 mbps. This disc won’t crack anyone’s list of “Blu-rays You’d Pop In to Show Off What Your TV Can Do”, but it isn’t exactly supposed to be a visual marvel. In other words, the video transfer is merely adequate, providing a decently sharp and clear picture as well as pleasing flesh tones. The blacks could’ve been improved upon — especially since the climactic heist sequence takes place indoors at night — and featured some crushing.
The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track gives us the jokes in a clear and audible manner, which is the most important thing in a dialogue-driven comedy like this one. The rear speakers don’t get a ton of work, only occasionally coming to life to pump out the film’s generic score and rarely immersing us in the film’s environment. The only time the track came to life was when it contributed to Tommy’s embarrassment during a sperm bank porn mishap early on in the film.
Behind the Scenes: (10:33) This is simply a collection of B-roll of the cast and crew on set. Unless you’re really into the minutia of filmmaking, this special feature basically dares you to skip it. Presented in standard definition.
Cast and Crew Interviews: (19:17) Interviews with Chandrasekhar, Heffernan, Munn, Faxon, Schneider and Harris. Only Munn’s segment — which shows off her wicked sense of humor — stood out in any way. Presented in standard definition.
Featurette: (5:01) A pretty basic featurette that recycles some of the comments from the Cast and Crew Interviews, including Schneider saying he thinks The Babymakers is a little bit smarter and a little more obscene than the average bear. Heffernan also chimes in with his five-word pitch for the film: “It’s Ocean’s Eleven with sperm.” Presented in high definition.
The Babymakers is the romantic comedy/heist movie hybrid that no one even thought to ask for. I wouldn’t put this film on the level of recent R-rated comedy smashes. However, if you’re in the mood for a silly, raunchy comedy, give this one a spin next time you’re at your local Redbox. (Ignore the awful title and cheesy Blu-ray cover.)