Making Babies shouldn’t work. As a drama tackling one of the more than 200,000 couples that face infertility it could have been an emotional tearjerker. Exploring that subject matter as a comedy? Not a chance. Somehow against the odds, Making Babies is a hilarious yet heartfelt look at the challenges of having a family.
From the outsider perspective where conceiving wasn’t a problem, the film probably won’t connect as well. It’s probably easier for audiences who can’t relate to skewer and critique this one and solely base it on technical merit.
This isn’t a one size fits all kind of film and is designed for its target audience. Those who can relate to the frustration of yet another failed pregnancy test, the ease other couples have in getting pregnant without having to ‘pay their dues’ and the mounting financial burden in the name of having a bundle of joy. Making Babies isn’t a cure-all for infertile couples, but it finds humor in one of their most challenging ordeals in a way to make them feel like they’re not alone in the struggle.
Katie (Eliza Coupe) and John (Steve Howey) have just moved into a new home and are ready to start having a family. While the initial fun of trying is enjoyable, the couple gradually starts feeling the stress and strain of months of going by without the positive affirmation from that little plastic strip. It doesn’t help that John’s brother, Gordon (Bob Stephenson, Lady Bird) and his wife, Maria (Elizabeth Rodriguez, Logan) had no problems conceiving and have three children. And Katie’s mother (Glenne Headly in her final film role) is a little too helpful with her advice on how they can get pregnant.
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Losing faith in the natural methods, Katie and John opt to try medical assistance with fertility doctor Dr. Remis (Ed Begley Jr. in a very fun supporting role). Begley has a terrific deadpan delivery and makes Remis just quirky enough without being too over the top.
Director/Writer Josh F. Huber really gets the challenges for couples trying to conceive. There were so many scenes that will likely feel far too familiar for infertile couples. Whether from the insensitive comments, unintentional slights or rigid structure of assisted pregnancies, there’s a lot to relate to here. It isn’t a fun topic, but Huber pulls the humor out of it thanks to his cast.
Coupe is one of the more underrated actresses today. She’s got great comedic timing and has killer expressions, which helped make her one of the standouts on ABC’s short-lived sitcom Happy Endings. Side note: I really miss Happy Endings and would love to see Netflix or some streaming service resurrect it.
Howey is matched well with Coupe and portrays John as well-meaning and supportive spouse even as he faces his own frustrations with not having a child or a career.
For the most part, Huber doesn’t go too over the top with the scenarios. With one exception — hallucination scenes rarely work — the jokes land pretty frequently. Occasionally, the film’s smaller budget will surface, but this isn’t the kind of film that requires a multi-million dollar production either.
You know the end result has to have a positive outcome, but Huber doesn’t go for the easy, feel good moments, instead opting for a more realistic take.
Making Babies takes a largely taboo topic and finds the fun in it with charming performances and a willingness to share a communal experience with its target audience.