Monday, July 30, 2012

Jay Chandrasekhar's BABYMAKERS offers a bit of the Broken Lizard Comedy Team....

...but not to terribly good effect. Broken Lizard's movies have always been hit-and-miss affairs, with a good one following a bad one following a so-so one following an OK one. And so on. After 2009's slick, fast and very funny The Slammin' Salmon -- set in a Miami restaurant and by far the best of the Broken Lizard lot -- comes their new one THE BABYMAKERS, which, to get it over with fast, is simply not-so-hot.

The premise itself -- a young-ish couple (Paul Schneider and Olivia Munn above) has trouble conceiving -- is not exactly novel: You may recall a supposedly ground-breaking film from 1970 entitled The Babymaker, starring a very young Barbara Hershey that dealt with a similar problem and used an at-the-time somewhat surprising solution. Since then we've seen countless films around this same scenario, each with its own bit (or lack) of originality.

Even as I recall the plot and assemble the various stills from the films, funny moments are coming back to me, so it seems the movie did have a certain amount of clever situa-tions and/or events along the way. But it so often manages to be both frenetic and flaccid -- no mean feat, when you think about it -- that it rarely offers the kind of comedy that is at all engaging. I attribute this mostly to its director and co-star Jay Chandrasekhar (shown at left), who as both actor and filmmaker seems to be losing much of the easy charm he had as a younger man and is now replacing it with louder volume and heavier-handed methods. Jay, honey: Relax a little, and come back to us!

On the other hand, Broken Lizard veteran Kevin Heffernan, above and hanging on for dear life (he directed -- and very well -- The Slammin Salmon, but in this one he's only performing), plays things down to smart effect and easily gets his laughs.

Ms Munn, shown below, left, with her posse, is fine as the straight girl (reduced to reactions only, I don't think she gets a laugh in the entire movie), but Mr. Schneider (above, in bank-job apparel), who is generally a very fine actor (from All the Real Girls through Lars and the Real Girl, Bright Star and the upcoming French film Beloved, in which he is superb), seems here to be a bit at sea. Schneider's particular qualities as an performer do not mesh all that well with this kind of low-level, frenetic comedy. (The screenplay is from Peter Gaulke and Gerry Swallow.)

There are a couple of pretty funny scenes. One involves the actual robbing of a sperm bank; the other has to do with the couple who plans to use the last of the Schneider character's donated sperm to create its own baby. Broken Lizard loves being tasteless and hopes to render this in ground-breaking ways. It comes closest in the scenes involving a pair of gay partners and how they figure into the mix. Some gay/bi's may take offense, but they'll probably also be laughing. I was, anyway.

TrustMovies was hoping to enjoy this one a lot more. While fans of Broken Lizard will certainly want to check it out, TM remains doubtful that it will bring in that many new recruits. The Babymakers, from Millennium Entertainment and running a too-long 98 minutes, opens this Friday, August 3, in ten cities across the USA, including New York (AMC Loew's Village 7) and Los Angeles (AMC Loews Broadway 4). Click here and then click on TICKETS to find the other cities. Also note: Simultaneous to its theatrical release, the movie will be available via VOD and iTunes.

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