The Babymakers belongs to that rare breed of comedy where you’re not quite sure if it’s hysterical or sociopathic. Upon first glance, The Babymakers seems to be following in the footsteps of the ill-fated Jennifer Aniston/Jason Bateman vehicle, The Switch. Who knew that the horrors of childbearing were such a comedic gold mine? It seems safe to say after The Babymakers 90-some minute runtime, the joke of the movie may just be lost on me.
The problem is, The Babymakers doesn’t seem to know what its own jokes are. For instance, the fact that Tommy (Paul Schneider) bought his wife Audrey (Olivia Munn) her engagement ring with the money he got from his deposits at a sperm bank? Sure, it gets a quick laugh, but Audrey treats with shock and horror. However, when she finds out he is breaking into steal back his sperm? Well, evidently she’s along for the laughs when it comes to that. It isn’t just that the humor is inconsistent, it’s that the movie swings from comedy to drama with the fervor of a pregnant woman’s mood swings. Plenty of movies have balanced humor and heart, but something about the humor of The Babymakers makes it almost impossible to believe any of its emotional honesty.
Don’t get me wrong, when a movie proudly proclaims that it’s from the director of Beerfest and Super Troopers, you know exactly the kind of humor you’re going to get. So when Tommy pulls a frozen vial of sperm from his buddy’s face, sure, it gets a couple of laughs. That’s what I’ve come to expect from Chandrasekhar. Honestly, it’s fine with me. Believe me, I love the cheap laughs and the gross-out, lowest-common-denominator humor as much as the next person, but where The Babymakers falters is in its attempts at depth.
The Babymakers sells itself as a comedy with its trailer, with its cast, and with its third act resolution. The problem is, it lacks the conviction of a comedy. Paul Schneider was great as the straight man in the first two seasons of NBC’s Parks and Recreation. He was fantastically cast as the concerned brother in 2007’s charming sleeper Lars & the Real Girl. As a leading man in a comedy, Paul Schneider’s flare for dramatics is too strong. He sells some really great comedic moments, but ultimately, his strong resolve and quiet demeanor makes everything seem so serious. The Babymakers might have been able to resolve this by giving him more moments with the supporting cast, who all lend their unique flavor to the film, but Schneider is left to his own devices for far too long. This paired with director’s own attempts at drama make The Babymakers more of a chore than it should be. When it finally gives in to its goofy comedy in the third, The Babymakers truly excels. Unfortunately, it takes too long for the film to get there as it waivers between drama and comedy.
When it embraces its lowbrow comedy, The Babymakers is surprisingly charming. Sadly, there is not enough of that type of humor or even that kind of charisma to carry the movie. Noble efforts from its male lead and several supporting cast members save the film from being a total waste, but ultimately, the film’s own confusion keeps it from realizing its potential. Instead, what could have been absurdist and grotesque humor finds itself trapped in this uncomfortable middle ground of “too real for comfort” and “too out there to be real.”