Oh, the comments section. Oh, dear. I feel guilty when I don’t read them, and then when I do they spark me into irrational action that I come to regret. Case in point: last week someone wrote something to the effect of “I never think Tulane Chris is funny, but I’m a straight guy.”
In short, fuck you. If you don’t think I’m funny, fine. Neither did my elementary school teachers, my Korean boss, or the lady at the DMV. But if I’m not funny, it’s because I, as a person, suck, not because “tuh I don’t speak faggot tuh.” I don’t write in some weird gay pig Latin and I limit myself to one dick-sucking joke per post (except on high holidays obviously.) I make people laugh or not on my own merits as a humorist, not because of my extensive business contacts in the Lavender Mafia.
This pissed me off a thousand times more than the standard “you suck” and I stewed on it. I decided that if they (at this point I was kind of drunk and lost track of who, exactly, I was mad at) wanted gay THEY’D GET GAY, so I Netflixed Beaches to review.
I couldn’t handle it. I recently learned that a loved one of mine is seriously ill, and I just couldn’t deal with a movie about cancer and Bette Midler, just at that particular moment, especially in light of the fact that it’s apparently over two hours long. That’s a lot of wind beneath a lot of wings, and I rebelled against my own plan. Instead, I looked for a nice, slow-moving chick flick to fire at.
Miss Conception. 2008. From the mailer sleeve: Georgina is a high-powered London businesswoman who's decided and determined to add "mother" to her long list of accomplishments. Unfortunately, her longtime boyfriend, Zak, isn't ready to be a daddy. With her biological clock ticking, Georgina recruits her best friend, Clem, to help her find the perfect father for her baby-to-be.
Let he who plans revenge dig two graves. Miss Conception is bad, sure. What do you expect from a foreign-made Heather Graham vehicle? Worse, though, is the fact that it’s bad in such a predictable way. The script reads like it was assembled from a kit developed in some very literal post-Soviet land, and the characters are so dull they approach being zero-dimensional. Sometimes actors phone performances in; I’m fairly sure this cast sent their performances in by text message.
For those of you don’t like to read these reviews, I’ve made a list of clichés in Miss Conception:
- All the women are bitchy, at a low level, all the time, like background radiation. None are pleasant, but none have the force of character to go out and be a really admirable shrew.
- Women in their early thirties are DESPERATE TO HAVE BABIES.
- There are several jogging sequences.
- The main male love interest is tall, handsome, vaguely artistic, and as boring as a fire safety video.
- WOMEN SHOP.
- Male friendships are haunted my the specter of homosexuality, and straight men live in fear that one day they and their drinking buddy (who, in this movie, is a narcoleptic Scot) will make eye contact and just FUCK.
- WOMEN LOVE CHOCOLATE.
- Every woman has a gay male friend who is an offensive combination of stereotypical gay traits and gladly performs in pinkface for her and her clique of vapid, selfish harpies.
- There is a makeover scene.
- Americans are just awful, especially when forced to go to third-world countries like Ireland.
That, in a nutshell, is this movie. Scatter those clichés around the word “infertility” and you’ve probably reproduced the spec script. For both of my loyal fans, I’ll recap the “plot.” Clichés in red.
The first words we see on the screen are “Northern Ireland Film Commission.” Gaza Strip Opera Company. All-Tibet Youth Orchestra. Miss Somalia pageant. Sure, whatever. Throw arts funding at conflict-riven pseudo-countries and see what happens.
Heather Graham is Georgina Salt (yes), a lady construction worker in her early thirties who lives with a handsome, immature documentary filmmaker. As the film opens, we learn that Boyfriend’s sister has just given birth, and that Georgina, a woman in her early thirties, WANTS A BABY but her selfish prick of a boyfriend won’t jam her full of seed. Georgina goes shopping for a baby gift in a white, domelike baby store where the strollers are mounted high on the walls. Oh, by the way, there’s a screen on the wall playing an ad for a doctor who performs fertility check-ups: he just looks around and pronounces your womb as either rich farmland or an arid, lifeless waste. This man advertises, on a continuous loop, in an ultramodern baby store. And is French. Any sane woman in the real world would laugh and continue with her own gynecologist, but since we need Heather Graham to get some bad news about her ovaries she makes an appointment.
The choppy storyboarding makes us wait to see what happens at the French Gyno so we can have an awkward scene at the after-baby party for Georgina’s sister-in-law. Sister-in-law has, as a focal point of her drawing room, a cast of her pregnant belly and breasts. Now… no. I don’t believe that a single woman ever had a plaster cast made of her belly at its largest and displayed it. Boyfriend knocks it over, which leads to an argument about how he’s a bad person for not wanting children, which leads to his hiding out at the narcoleptic Scot’s house while Georgina cools down.
Oh, God, Mia Kirschner’s in this movie, the nightmarish Jennie from The L Word. If you hated Jennie, you’ll love seeing the same oh-so-precious sense of entitlement played with an English accent, punctuated with dead-end references to her new-age beliefs. She is Georgina’s “sassy” best friend, for some reason, and accompanies her to the French gyno. Georgina proceed to have surgery so French Gyno can count her ova.
It’s a testament to how trite this movie is that the characters aren’t even interesting when doing something objectively insane. One afternoon, Georgina has surgery on a whim so a strange French man can look at her ovaries (presumably with a penlight) and count her ova. In any other movie this would be completely unbelievable, but we’re already so benumbed 20 minutes into Miss Conception that we’d accept, nay, welcome Superman checking her gonads with X-ray vision.
Womp, womp. Georgina has ONE OVUM LEFT. She’ll be ovulating in two weeks, over the course of a four-day span culminating on her thirty-fourth birthday. She must be inseminated by her birthday or remain barren. (The insemination is new, but the whole by-your-birthday, you have three days timespan reminds me of Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, and every single other fairy tale.) A lot of tiresome setup takes place: the end result is that, due to the machinations of his Awful American Assistant who wants him for herself (“machinations of the other woman” and “awful American” are two cliches in one), Boyfriend doesn’t hear about The Little Ovum That Might and goes with his AAA to film a documentary on the remote Aran Islands, where his cell phone doesn’t work.
Meanwhile, Georgina, Mia, and Standard Faggot create a chart of insemination strategies, one of which will be tried on each day of her Fertility Window. This becomes a labored, labored (see what I did, pear? LABORED) device to move the plot forward. This movie is about as feminist as the Saudi remake of “Leave it to Beaver.” Georgina, though attractive, accomplished, and the owner of her own business, has to be a mother, has to be pregnant, to be complete. Somewhere in heaven, Margaret Sanger just poured Elizabeth Cady Stanton another shot and said, “Those broads just don’t get it, do they?”
THURSDAY – Georgina places an ad for a room for rent, hoping to seduce a prospective tenant. UH-OH one’s ugly, UH-OH one’s gay, UH-OH she’s about to bang the third but then Boyfriend gets a window of reception and calls. Why, yes, he does leave an “I love you” message on the machine before she can get to it, spoiling the mood! How did you know?
FRIDAY – Georgina has taken to opening each day with an alliterative Goddess-power fertility chant, along the lines of “I am a FFFertile FFField of FFFabulous FFFemale FFFecundity.” Fomit. Today’s plan is to go to a funeral and try to bed a mourner. (It’s like wedding crashers, but completely nonsensical.) So, they find a funeral of young, athletic man and crash it. UH-OH TURNS OUT HE WAS GAY TOO, so of course ALL HIS FRIENDS ARE GAY TOO, so of course THE FUNERAL TURNS INTO A DISCO AND THE MOURNERS TAKE OFF THEIR SHIRTS AND GRIND EACH OTHER. I would love to be kidding. I don’t care what you all do the day after my funeral but at the event itself I want some tears, crocodile if necessary. Georgina takes the departed’s presumably straight accountant home, where he finds her Insemination Strategy Battle Plan Sheet and leaves, after calling her a freak and insulting her décor.
SATURDAY – All this time, a mindless little subplot has been going on in the Aran Islands. Boyfriend gets tired of his Awful American assistant, who is revealed to be a spoiled Daddy’s girl. Someone accidentally says “fuck” in front of a nun, Boyfriend gets tired of his AAA and decides to go back to Georgina, following a strange and unlikely conversation with another nun. (They swarm over Ireland like ants on honey, apparently.) His flight is sold out so he has to drive to Cork and take the ferry to England. He’s suddenly in a desperate hurry for no reason – it helps the plot, but he doesn’t know about the Little Lost Ovum. Why is he in tearing haste? Too many nuns? Meanwhile, Georgina brings an Italian stripper home and he steals her purse.
SUNDAY – Georgina almost sleeps with a coworker, but it turns out he had mumps and was rendered infertile. MUMPS. You remember, that disease that almost no one in the Western world gets anymore because of aggressive vaccination? That one. Instead of going for it anyway (why on earth do you waste a construction worker clad only in briefs?) she runs off to buy semen online. She prepares the baster in the kitchen (ugh), but UH-OH her mom walks in and Georgina accidentally sends the swimmers all over her birthday cake, a la teenage gross-out comedy, although to the film’s credit no one eats the cake. She tries to get Standard Faggot to take one for England, but he can’t get it up enough to provide her with a sample, then gets a call from George Michael asking him to do costume design for him – like, that second. As he tries to leave, Georgina wrestles him to the ground and tries to tear off his pants. Just then, the housekeeper walks in, and Georgina gets kicked out of the motel room they were to use for the conception for attempted rape.
There’s still a lot of movie left. Boyfriend goes through a travel montage that implies that he walked to London from Bristol. Mia Kirschner confides that she had an abortion once. Georgina thinks Boyfriend’s cheating on her with AAA, Boyfriend thinks Georgina’s cheating with the sleepy Scot, a lot of yelling happens, it turns out the Scot’s in love with Mia Kirschner (ugh) a lot of blah happens, everyone pairs off and she gets pregnant. She figures it out during a jog, so of course she turns around and RUNS home, instead of taking it at a nice miscarriage-avoiding walk. Everyone hugs.
I’ve drawn the following lessons from the film:
A woman is only a worthless, dry husk until she falls pregnant within the context of a heterosexual union
Northern Ireland is less problematic as a war zone than as a sponsor of the arts.