The sperm donor movies are all right


Why the sudden recent spurt, for lack of a better word,  of films about sperm donors and artificial insemination? J-Lo might not have done much to stimulate her career earlier this year with "The Back-Up Plan,"


and it remains to be seen how Jennifer Aniston fares with the upcoming "The Switch" (8/20),


but Lisa Cholodenko's "The Kids Are All Right" seems likely to do well at the box office and with the critics.

At any rate, aside from the perennial comic awkwardness of the turkey baster arrangement, and the ongoing popularity of jokes involving that particular bodily fluid ever since "There's Something About Mary,"


and, finally, the universal appeal of mysterious parental origins since Oedipus, there's got to be some reason why three films  with the same premise are coming out within a six month period.

Maybe it's an assault on (or a reaffirmation of) the necessity of fathers in the nuclear family unit? If paternity can be reduced to an anonymous donor spending a few minutes with a plastic cup and a dirty magazine, what does that say about thousands of years of patriarchal tyranny?

Similarly, a point that is a theme in Cholodenko's film, it makes lesbian couples no less viable than the officially approved heterosexual kind in fulfilling the basic reproductive role. Maybe even more so. Therefore, these films, or at least Cholodenko's, serve as a kind of indirect plug for legalizing same sex marriage.

Most likely, though, the premise reasserts that fundamental Hollywood bromide, that "family" conquers all, and whatever that amorphous, all healing entity might be, it doesn't have a lot to do with biology.

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