Judge Brett Cullum doesn't worry about menopause much when he sees Heather Graham.
She's seeking Mr. Right Now!
Miss Conception is a misconceived romantic comedy about ticking biological clocks and fake British accents. We find Heather Graham (From Hell) playing Georgina Scott, a cute, perky London lady who has just found out menopause comes early in her family. She's only 33 but may soon not be able to get pregnant. A doctor tells her she literally has four days to get knocked up or else she might as well hang it up and grow the inevitable mustache while suffering through hot flashes. The timing is bad, since she just broke up with her boyfriend, Zak (Tom Ellis, Eastenders), because he seems reluctant to have a baby. But all is not lost, because she has her best gal pal, Clem (Mia Kirshner, The L Word), helping her find suitable alternatives. The rest of the movie is a madcap scramble to find a sperm for Georgina's last egg. Will she find a stranger, or will her boyfriend come back around? Can anyone save her from chasing after men at a gay man's funeral or contemplating the insertion of a turkey baster.
It's daring to do an infertility comedy, and the script can't find a way to make the touchy subject light enough to be funny. Truly this one isn't going to be high up on anybody's list, but it is an okay comedy when it comes to the performances. Graham seems to be better at doing accents than she was during her From Hell stage, and she's certainly got a gift for silly romantic comedy timing. All in all we believe her, and we root for her character to beat biology and get what she wants. Graham looks wide eyed and injects the right frantic tone of a woman desperate to find an answer to her dilemma. Along for the ride is Mia Kirshner who seems to be glad to shed the dour lesbian drama she currently does for the Showtime series, and she gets to do her own take on the Absolutely Fabulous routine. Everybody else seems to be pulled from English television, and that suits the film fine. The whole cast is young, pretty, and willing to give it a go.
What makes Miss Conception not work as well as it should is it's not particularly lively or funny. The story gets directed in a way that doesn't seem light enough for the comedy it is seeking. The film wants to wring out drama along with the silly slapstick, and the two don't work well together in this case. They undermine each other rather than offer any support. There have been plenty of comedies about women wanting to have a baby, and this one doesn't go in to new territory. It follows the Bridget Jones's Diary model, hoping we find urbane desperate London women funny. Hell, it even casts an American actress in the lead. We've got a clichéd romantic comedy, and the problem is the clichés have been done better before. Sure, Miss Conception comes off as sweetly earnest, but there are no surprises. Match an uneven tone with a predictable plot, and this one doesn't capture what makes British romantic comedies good.
Technically there's not much to recommend this title on DVD. Colors on Miss Conception seem washed out for a comedy presentation, and black levels are a bit off. Again it seems the film was shot like a drama rather than a comedy, and even the transfer bears this out. There are two sound choices including a five channel surround or stereo option, and they both showcase solid separation and clear dialogue delivery. Nothing to complain about with the aural presentation. The only extra consists of an eight minute discussion of the film with the traditional press kit interviews and canned "this was so much fun" statements from cast and crew. It doesn't offer any insight for this project. First Look Studios has made a name for itself as a distributor by offering viewers projects that were not well released or known in theatres, but sometimes you find out why that is the case.
Miss Conception is simply a "time passer" in the romantic comedy department, a movie that rests squarely in the middle of the road. It's not truly bad, but there's nothing here to make me want to champion it either. The performers almost carry off the formulaic plot, but there's not enough here to say this one's a rare find. Heather Graham comes off fine, and the rest of the cast do credible work. Yet their efforts are in vain when you realize the film doesn't have the right tone to make the comedy fly. It's also too soon for Heather Graham to be doing "biological clock" comedies. The actress looks young enough to be back on roller skates for Boogie Nights, and it's hard to make threats of menopause seem heavy in her California girl body. An older actress could have made this more believable and poignant, and a better director could have found the comedy in her frustration. This one would be fine for a girl's night or a date flick, but watch it when you want something forgettable enough to make the rest of the night memorable.
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