This is a spermal tap

Posted on 18 Feb 2010 at 10:54am

Fantasy mockumentary about man-free pregnancy never finds proper tone


HEATHER HAS TWO MOMMIES | A baby with all-female DNA is the object of the affection of Athena (Angelia Vint, left) and Lilith (Megan Fahlenbock).

2 out of 5 stars
THE BABY FORMULA
Four Day Weekend Theater, 312 Houston St., Fort Worth. Screens Feb. 23 at 8 p.m. $10. Qcinema.org.

Why shouldn’t we have the right to make our own babies? asks one lesbian couple. Not, mind you, where one woman carrying the other’s egg that was fertilized by — gasp! — a man’s semen. No, they think they should both be allowed to be biological parents.

And technology now allows that to happen. Stem cell research has led to the development of "womanly sperm" which permits two women to share their genetic material to create a child with chromosomes from each. The researchers are not making men obsolete, they insist … just unnecessary.

"One day we’ll make women unnecessary, too," one of the researchers promises. "Oh, yes, absolutely," nods his colleague.

Along the mockumentary continuum, The Baby Formula falls somewhere along the tame side of This Is Spinal Tap: Not quite a spoof, not quite a satire, not quite right.

The film’s actual director, Alison Reid, plays the director-interviewer chronicling the first same-sex impregnation. But proto-parenthood isn’t all rosy. Not even 15 minutes in, Athena (Angela Vint) and Lilith (Megan Fahlenbock) squabble when Athena learns Lilith is also carrying one of their children. But did the two-mommy process really work? Or is there more to the story?

Maybe it’s the gay male in me, but the lyric wooziness that comes when women fetishize being pregnant ("Oooh! Stretch marks!") simply goes beyond me, as does the touchy-feely earth-mother dialogue that, it’s never apparent, is either meant to be mocked or celebrated for its centeredness. (I’m more of a dog-person, though Juno got the skepticism exactly right.) Maybe it’s just that The Baby Formula just isn’t funny enough to make its points clear. At least until Lilith’s two dads show up, and the hilarious camp factor of an uncomfortable family dinner gets going. Then, just as quickly, the tone turns mawkish.

Tone, in fact, is the major shortcoming of this Formula, which flits around so much, it helps to have the attention span of a hummingbird to appreciate it. Too much sentiment and too few laughs: That’s a questionable combination for a mockumentary. •

— Arnold Wayne Jones

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 19, 2010.

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