SXSW ’12 Review: The Plot Nearly Cockblocks Jay Chandrasekhar’s Very Funny “Babymakers”



All our SXSW 2012 coverage can be found here.

During the post-screening Q & A for “The Babymakers,” separate questions from the audience honed in on how the film came to be, the first from director Jay Chandrasekhar to not feature his Broken Lizard troupe in full and auspiciously, at first glance, would seem to follow in the Judd Apatow humor with a heart wave of comedies in recent years. Broken Lizard alum Kevin Heffernan conceded "it's hard to keep fitting five guys into a movie" with regards to why Steve Lemme, Paul Soter and Erik Stolhanske never show up in the film and referred to the Apatow influence by saying "you've got to play the game" in order to get financing. As it turns out, a comedy about a married couple who are unable to conceive despite their best efforts proves to be a license for tackling more adult subject matter while indulging in highly fertile territory for dick jokes.

Since I clearly can't help but make one myself, the first 45 minutes of "Babymakers" were as satisfying for me as anything Chandrasekhar and Heffernan have collaborated on in the wake of their raucous breakthrough "Super Troopers." Though their idea of a date movie jokes about anal sex shortly after a romantic dinner is served, Chandrasekhar gets some nice chemistry going between Paul Schneider and Olivia Munn, who the director first showcased in the last film "The Slammin Salmon," and his faith in her pays off early. The conversations between husband and wife Tommy and Audrey are positively filthy, emphasis on positively since their affection is palpable, so much so that it's entirely believable when Schneider reveals to his buddies that the reason he knows he's not shooting blanks is because he once contributed 20 batches of his seed to a sperm bank so he could pay for the engagement ring she wanted.

Munn, however, is unaware of this and is also in the dark about Schneider's scheme to rectify their infertility issue by breaking into the Pasadena fertility clinic where he made his donations. It's only a matter of time before she learns about both these things, which has the unfortunate effect of putting a ticking clock on the amount of time "Babymakers" can subsist on the energy of its wisecracks alone. Once the plot kicks in, the film grows wilder since the sperm bank robbery plan involves car chases, misplaced kidney transplants, and an Indian gangster named Mr. John (played by Chandrasekhar behind a graying beard). As a filmmaker, Chandrasekhar's always been more invested than most in raunchy comedies at creating a context so skillfully realized that the jokes are funnier when non-sequiturs slip they’re way in. (One of the funnier examples of this in "Babymakers" arrives when Schneider is asked to deposit sperm and after a porno goes awry and topless pictures don't do the trick, he settles for a food magazine with twin honeydews on the cover.) But with a more grounded premise than is their norm, Chandrasekhar and Heffernan’s strengths at pushing the envelope further and further look increasingly out of place as the obligation to a transparently mechanical story make the outrageous predictable with an expectedly tidy conclusion to an expectedly untidy final act.

Still, there's more to like about "The Babymakers" than there isn't, its goodwill running just long enough to cover its 93-minute running time. Beyond what’s there for Broken Lizard’s core demographic who will surely appreciate seeing Munn in a succession of sex fantasies and the humor that’s equally scantily clad, it’s a step forward for Chandrasekhar towards more meatier material, albeit a baby one.

"The Babymakers" does not yet have U.S. distribution. It will play once more at SXSW on March 14th at the Alamo Lamar B.

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