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Maggie Erchook on Lilith (Megan Fahlenbock) in The Baby Formula.

2 out of 4 stars


The Baby Formula

  • Written by Richard Beattie
  • Directed by Alison Reid
  • Starring Angela Vint, Megan Fahlenbock, Rosemary Dunsmore and Jessica Booker
  • Classification: 14A

Another cheerfully profane Canadian sex comedy that will have our Prime Minister wondering what the heck kind of country he's running, The Baby Formula is the story of a gay female couple who both decide to get pregnant and have babies. Its subtitle could be Young Lesbians Lactating .

Another kick in the shins to social conservatives: Athena and Lilith drive right past the sperm bank on the way to the maternity ward, taking advantage of experimental stem-cell advances producing "womanly sperm."

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Yes, The Baby Formula is a comedy, and one that gets off to a terrific, funny start. A mockumentary crew invades a Toronto laboratory, where two scientists - nerds extraordinaire - handle lab mice and questions about their controversial experiments. One deep thinker opens his lab coat to reveal two inches of pyjamas above his pants. The other, blinking furiously, suggests that if all goes well with their studies, men and women will soon be unnecessary.

Finally, a world without people - just scientists.

From there, the crew meets up with Athena (Angela Vint) and Lilith (Megan Fahlenbock) and The Baby Formula , sad to say, pretty much turns into pabulum. The problems begin and end with the pregnant couple, who strike us as ready, conscientious parents, but not necessarily fit subjects for a comedy. Simply put, neither woman is particularly funny, or even much fun.

Sensing their comedy is more than a few laughs short, the filmmakers outfit Athena and Lilith with wacky extended families. Lilith's parents are gay men, neither of whom could pass the toast-buttering test in The Birdcage . Lilith's mom (Rosemary Dunsmore) is a dour Christian. And there's a wee Scottish granny hanging around, in constant need of Scotch and watering.

The gay granddads provide a few dirty laughs. Granny (Jessica Booker) is a doll. And Dunsmore, star of the old CBC sitcom Mom P.I. , manages to make a crude stereotype sympathetic. But director Alison Reid's film is too content to play the kooky in-laws for easy sitcom chuckles. Nor does Reid really make much out of the film's mockumentary format, dropping the premise in the film's final reel.

Still, The Baby Formula 's biggest fault is that the comedy is unable to take its lead characters un seriously. Athena and Lilith are role models here. And role models tend to make stuffy, boring characters. The film seems determined to make sure we understand that its lesbian mothers are regular folks. Who could have a problem with that?

Then again, as filmmaker Billy Wilder once put it, "If I want to see the people next door, why would I go to a movie? I'd just go next door."

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