Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Parents' Night Out: 'Conception' Review

Connie Britton and Jason Mantzoukas star in "Conception."

There are lots of funny stories about how moms and dads found out they were going to be parents. In fact, mine involves Fez hats, cocktails and a perplexed husband who wasn't sure what I was getting at when I showed him a fateful white stick. (Granted, he had been enjoying a Boys' Night In with one of his friends while I was discovering our future daughter for the first time.)

But we rarely hear the laughable side of actual conception -- perhaps because it's such a private moment between two (possibly unsuspecting) people.

But that's where the film "Conception" comes in. Written and directed by Josh Stolberg, "Conception" chronicles the crazy, hilarious, awkward, frustrating and often dramatic moments that lead to the creation of another human being.

And it has a lot of fun doing it -- uh, so to speak.

The romantic comedy, which I caught at the Beverly Hills Film Festival, follows nine couples -- at nine different stages of their relationships -- on the night they conceive.

From a long-married couple (played by Jonathan Silverman and Jennifer Finnigan) who bicker over toothpaste and toilet paper to a nurse who asks her squeamish husband (Connie Britton and Jason Mantzoukas) to inject her with hormones to a teenage couple (Sarah Hyland and Matt Prokop) who have sex after a promise of vegetarianism, the film gives frank yet endearing perspectives on what exactly leads people to each other -- and to intimacy.

My favorite couple by far was Gloria and Brian (Britton and Mantzoukas). His squeamishness at having to inject his wife with fertility hormones -- wondering aloud what will happen if he faints while a needle is stuck in her bum -- is not only hilarious but also touchingly real.

The story line of the sleep-deprived new mother (Jennifer Jostyn) who is more focused on nighttime feedings than her desirous husband (Alan Tudyk) is also frank yet touching.

"Did you see what went on down there?" she asks him, incredulous that he's so interested in getting back in the saddle, as it were. "It's like a grenade went off."

While at times the number of couples and attendant story lines felt a bit overwhelming, I really appreciated the moments when the future parents I could relate to were on screen. Stolberg allowed his characters unruly and selfish moments, which exist at any part of parenthood -- from conception and beyond.

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