Considered by many to be the worst film of the 1990s, “Frozen Assets” is a comedy about a bank manager who gets a new job running a (wait for it) sperm bank. Considered by many to be the worst films of the 2000s, “Strange Wilderness” was co-written by Peter Gaulke.
“The Babymakers” was co-written by Peter Gaulke, and a sperm bank figures heavily in the plot. Draw your own conclusions.
To be fair, I wasn’t aware of either of these things when I went into “The Babymakers,” but after a witless and lunkheaded 98 minutes of jokes involving boobies and testicular trauma, it suddenly all made sense.
Working with his Broken Lizard comedy troupe, director Jay Chandrasekhar has scored with memorably hilarious movies like “Super Troopers” and “Puddle Cruiser,” but his only previous non-Lizard film (not including his work of many of the best shows currently on TV) was the forgettable big-screen remake of “The Dukes of Hazzard.” Suffice it to say that “The Babymakers” doesn’t bolster the case for him straying from the flock.
Tommy (Paul Schneider) and Audrey (Olivia Munn) have been married for three years and are ready to start having a family. After nine months of steadily trying, however, nothing’s happening. Tommy assumes he can’t be at fault because, unbeknownst to Audrey, he raised the money for her engagement ring by selling his sperm. Years of softballs and golf clubs to the groin, however, have put Tommy out of the baby-making business.
What to do? Break into the sperm bank and steal one of his old samples, of course. It’s a task that involves rallying together Tommy’s dopey pals (Broken Lizard vet Kevin Heffernan and, of all people, newly-minted Oscar-winning screenwriter Nat Faxon) and hiring Ron Jon (Chandrasekhar), who may or may not have made his bones as a mobster in India.
“The Babymakers” has as much in common with an actual comedy as that rubber display sushi in the restaurant window has with the real thing. To the casual observer, it would appear to have all the right elements (a cast of talented comedians, a potentially amusing premise) but take one bite and you know you’ve made a terrible mistake.
Even before the semen-stealing hijinks ensue, it’s clear that this isn’t going to work — the very opening scene features Schneider and Munn, both of whom have been very appealing in other films and TV shows, exchanging provocative banter over dinner, and there’s no spark whatsoever. Not only does the dialogue (by Gaulke and Gerry Swallow) fall flat, there’s absolutely no chemistry between the two stars. They give off all the oomph of two actors who have been thrown together in an audition after they scraped fenders in the parking lot.
The only moments where “The Babymakers” provides any kind of comic lift come when talented improvisers like Faxon, Heffernan, Chandrasekhar and Aisha Tyler clearly go off-book and noodle their way into something that’s actually amusing. And the movie does get points for at least raising the idea of adoption; so many films endorse their lead straight couples who treat their DNA like gold and won’t even consider the idea of providing a home to a child who desperately needs one.
This director and these actors have done and will do better work, and “The Babymakers” will quietly slink its way off of their résumés.