(On Cable TV, October 2014) Complaining about a Jay Chandrasekhar comedy being crass is a bit redundant, but here goes anyway: The Babymakers goes quickly from an amiable comedy to a vulgar one, then hops back and forth between the two stances in ways that seem more accidental than deliberate. It’s supposed to be about a couple trying to conceive (itself a subject that shouldn’t be treated lightly), but it quickly aims for the lowest common denominator in setting up a sperm bank heist. With a subject like that, you can imagine the gross-outs that inevitably follow. It’s not that the film is lacking in laughs, or that it’s entirely without charm: Paul Schneider is a fairly good leading man, while Olivia Munn isn’t too bad in a still-rare feature film leading role. (Alas, their married-couple banter feels more like a frat-boy’s idea of a perfect marriage, but that’s roughly equal to the rest of the film.) The rest of the supporting cast is there for laughs, and Chandrasekhar himself gets a few chuckles as a seedy fixer. Still, there are often lulls, ill-advised subplots (such as the unnecessarily-mean gay couple segment), a weak conclusion and scenes that don’t reach either for credibility or zany humor. As a result, The Babymakers may not be terrible, but it’s not any good either, and it doesn’t have the spark of charm that’s required for transforming a mediocre comedy into a likable one.
(On DVD, September 2011) I watched this while in the mood for some dumb silliness, and got what I wanted: Super Troopers’s big comic premise is to transpose frat-boy antics onto a police context: Bored patrolmen playing head games with motorists, dumb policemen flying off in a rage, duelling corps trying to one-up each other. There really isn’t much more to this film. On the other hand, well, it does manage to be sporadically funny … and ten years later, Super Troopers still live on in internet pop culture in a series of memes and in-jokes. (“meow”, “mother of god” and “enhance –just print it” are the three that come up from time to time) Anything with even the slightest bit of pop-culture relevance after ten years is worth a quick look. The Broken Lizard comedy troupe that conceived Super Troopers is uneven: writer/director Jay Chandrasekhar is very funny, but many of the other either struggle to make an impression, or make a negative one. Production notes suggest that the budget of the film was ridiculously low, but it doesn’t show too much: while this is a low-budget film, its lack of funding doesn’t feel all that obtrusive. Perhaps the best thing about Super Troopers is that, for all of its self-indulgence in showcasing a comedy group in a deliberately dumb setting, it’s decently structured and, as a result, survives without too much trouble even a decade later. Small praise, but we can all remember far dumber comedies that are nigh-unwatchable even with the best viewers’ intentions.