Directed by: Josh Stolberg
Written by: Josh Stolberg
Starring: Julie Bowen, David Arquette, Pamela Adlon, Sarah Hyland, Connie Britton, Moon Bloodgood, Aaron Ashmore, Jennifer Finnigan, Jonathan Silverman, Jason Mantzoukas, and Alan Tudyk
April 6th was opening night at the 11th Annual Beverly Hills Film Festival and yours truly was lucky enough to catch the festival’s official filmmaker selection, CONCEPTION. Written and Directed Josh Stolberg, it was recently named “Best of the Fest” for the Palm Beach Int’l Film Festival. The film festival runs April 6-10. For more information and tickets, visit www.beverlyhillsfilmfestival.com.
There comes a time in all of our lives when we have had thoughts – good or bad – about having babies. For a few of the couples featured in the romantic comedy CONCEPTION, pregnancy comes as a complete surprise. While it’s not a new theme (NINE MONTHS, KNOCKED UP, and even ROSEMARY’S BABY have tackled the topic), it hasn’t been done like this before. The film highlights the opening act to parenthood.
David Arquette’s teacher character and interviews with children nicely bookend CONCEPTION. We are asked, “Where do babies come from?” Since this movie goes beyond the scientific superficial answer to the question, we get to peek into nine couples’ intimate lives on the night they conceive. That’s right – I said nine! Now stay with me here.
Up first is real life married couple Jennifer Finnigan and Jonathan Silverman – they play the long-married couple for whom sex has become dull and obligatory. Next there’s a middle-aged mom (Julie Bowen) making a sex tape with her much younger boyfriend (played by James McAvoy dopplegager Gregory Smith). We’ve also got the following: Tracey (Sarah Hyland) who’ll sleep with her boyfriend (Matt Prokop) if he becomes a vegetarian; a bickering twosome (Tim Griffin and America Olivo) who also got at each other with sex in the shower; an exhausted mother (Jennifer Jostyn) who barely has time to take care of her newborn let alone her hubby (Alan Tudyk); a woman on a disastrous blind date (Leila Charles Leigh) who decides to turn it around by sleeping with the guy (Steve Howey); a gal (Leah Pipes) who’s reached a breaking point with her live-in boyfriend (Aaron Ashmore); a couple (Connie Britton and Jason Mantzoukas) who are going through fertility treatments in hopes of getting pregnant; and finally, the cutest lesbian couple (Pamela Adlon and Moon Bloodgood) since THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT.
Writer/ Director Josh Stolberg has a gift for dialogue, which you’d never figure out from his previous works PIRANHA 3D and GOOD LUCK CHUCK. As you can imagine, I was pleasantly surprised by that. Nothing in the eighteen characters’ dialogue ever rang false. My only complaint with the script is that there were far too many couples featured. Two of them – specifically the shower sex and blind date couples – should be exorcised completely as they slow down the film’s momentum and subtract from the other couples I’d rather spend time with. As a director, Stolberg uses split screen to transition between the characters in a very interesting way. This technique was brilliantly showcased in the third act when – not a shocker – we find out all our couples are pregnant.
The cast of this film is pretty amazing too. I was impressed Stolberg was able to fit all that talent and their stories into the relatively short running time of 86 minutes. Finnigan and Silverman naturally sparkle on screen. Britton and her partner got the most chuckles out of the audience, especially when Mantzoukas says the line “I’m pretty sure I dumped a baby inside you.”
Overall this film is a witty, clever, funny little gem. My hope is that CONCEPTION will secure distribution as I could see this finding its audience with IFC Films or Magnolia Pictures. They say making a film is like birthing a baby, and this one deserves a good home.
4 out of 5