With the recent release of The Back-up Plan and The Kids Are All Right , and The Switch hitting theaters later this summer, there’s clearly an artificial insemination trend happening in Hollywood — but we’d argue that our fascination with the topic is nothing new. Whether you see these films as encouraging, depressing, or comedic gold, today we will be exploring the turkey baster genre in all its messy wonder. Sit back and get ready for a journey through the land of sperm banks and conception devices.
1. Happy Endings – Don Roo (2005) In Don Roos’ clever film, a masseuse (Lisa Kudrow channeling the more morose side of Phoebe) works with a filmmaker-in-training to locate the son that she gave up for adoption long ago. The artificial insemination comes in when her stepbrother and his boyfriend, Gil, confront their lesbian buddies about filching Gil’s sperm without telling them in order to produce their adorable son. As you can imagine, the confrontation is comically maladroit, packed with a tension-heavy dose of bumbling and fumbling.
2. Twins – Ivan Reitman (1988) Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito are Julius and Vincent, twins conceived through a genetic experiment involving the sperm of six different fellows in which the goal was to make the perfect human being. As the casting makes obvious, the laughs in the film derive from the brothers’ differences. Vincent is the diminutive scamp on the lam, and Julius is the oddly childlike muscle-bound genius. Together, they seek their long lost mother, and even find love along the way — much to Julius’ confusion.
3. Seed of Chucky – Don Mancini (2004) This film fuses the frightening with the funny in an unsettling manner that mocks the horror genre as a whole. Glen is the sexually ambiguous son of the murderous toy, Chucky, and his hot, homicidal doll girlfriend Tiffany (voiced by Jennifer Tilly, who also appears as herself in the movie). He heads to Hollywood on a quest to find his parents. After he brings his mommy and daddy back to life using voodoo, they knock Tilly out while she’s having sex with Redman, and inseminate her with Chucky’s semen. Warning: Don’t try this at home, kids.
4. 21 Grams – Alejandro González Iñárritu (2003) This prismatic offering from Iñárritu explores the impact of a car accident on the lives of its wounded characters. In the part of the story that concerns artificial insemination, a woman wants her husband — who’s about to die from a heart condition — to donate his sperm so that she can conceive after he has passed. Suffice it to say that he ends up donating his sperm to another woman in a slightly more lively sense.
5. Hannah and Her Sisters – Woody Allen (1986) In this Allen flick (which was partly inspired by Ingmar Bergman’s Fanny and Alexander) he plays Mickey, Hannah’s ex-husband, who is, surprise, surprise, a bit of a head case. In one of the many flashbacks, Hannah and Mickey discover that his equipment is not of the tot-making variety (in his inimitable way, Allen’s character says to the doctor, “Isn’t there anything I can do, push-ups or hormones?”). Later, they ask a couple they’re having dinner with if the husband would be willing to donate his seed, and then try to go back to eating — unsuccessfully.
6. Forget Paris – Billy Crystal (1995) In this saga of love and basketball, a referee played by Billy Crystal falls in love with a woman (Debra Winger) on his way to bury his father in France. The film traces the challenges of their resulting relationship through the lens of Crystal’s co-writing, directing, and particular brand of physical-verbal comedy, covering everything from Winger’s character getting a pigeon stuck to her head to an in vitro fertilization crisis that culminates in a droll sequence involving a police squad-delivered sperm sample.
7. A Boy and His Dog – L.Q. Jones (1975) What’s not to like about this end-of-the-world odyssey of human and telepathic canine in search of nosh and nookie? When they discover a pocket of people living beneath the earth, they join the community. The only problem is that their new brethren are more interested in fertilization than fraternization — that is to say, they’re sterile and want to use the boy for infant creation and then off him.
8. Pink Flamingos – John Waters (1972) This startling cult favorite features Divine, queen of gross-out camp and “the filthiest person alive,” and touches on every taboo and bugaboo in the book — including, but not limited to: tarring and feathering, forced baby making to fund underage drug use, flashings, purse snatchings, human waste sent via the mail, faux castration, hostage taking, and finally, the most shocking of all… a move to Boise, Idaho.
9. Look Who’s Talking – Amy Heckerling (1989) This one is a complicated case of falsified artificial insemination. When Mollie (Kirstie Alley) gets knocked up by a crappy, married co-worker, she tells her parents that she conceived by a donor. She eventually ends up with the nice cab driver (John Travolta) who dropped her off at the hospital when she went into labor. (She’d left her purse in his taxi, and he bonded with her new son. He’d also been using her address to keep his grandfather in a local nursing home, but Mollie decides that that’s OK as long as he agrees to babysit for free.) They eventually fall in love. A franchise is born.
10. Made in America (1993) In our book, it’s hard to go wrong with Whoopi Goldberg. In this topsy-turvy child-engineering tale, Whoopi’s character requests a smart, black male sperm donor and, instead, gets much, much worse than a dumb, white guy; she gets Ted Danson, who also happens to be a used car salesman who employs zoo animals as comic relief in his commercials. In the immortal words of Whoopi, “This is not a mix-up; a mix-up is when you order hamburger and get a cheeseburger.”
Any other good artificial insemination movie suggestions out there? Leave a comment.