There’s a mesmerizing parenthetical aside in John Horn’s preview of “The Back-Up Plan” in the Los Angeles Times, the romantic comedy starring Jennifer Lopez that opens tomorrow. “Outside of comic-book adaptations and ‘Wizard of Oz’ revivals, sperm donation is now Hollywood’s hottest trend,” Horn notes. “Freelance fertilization is central to the plots of Annette Bening and Julianne Moore’s ‘The Kids Are All Right’ and Jennifer Aniston’s ‘The Switch.'”
I love this conjecture more than I can say. Just picture those pitch meetings, with an enthusiastic screenwriter coming into the room, eyes gleaming with the promise of a sure thing. “Wait til you hear this, guys. I’ve got a sure thing. It’s about artificial insemination.” (The idea of “freelance” insemination is also quite delightful. Are there 1099 forms for that?)
Per the golden rule of the trend piece, it only takes three of anything to constitute a “trend.” So two Hollywood rom-coms and one Sundance movie definitely constitute a hot trend that just calls for experts to come explain how it reflects growing feminine discomfort with the dating process, or greatest tolerance of technology, or something like that.
And it’s instances like this where I can’t help but find the very idea of a trend piece ridiculous. I like to imagine inventing a time machine to send these zealous zeitgeist extrapolators back to an era when there really were trends to observe unfolding in real time, so they could puzzle over the gangster films of the ’30s, or write think-piece after think-piece about the effect of Watergate on ’70s cynicism and paranoia. At least that way, there’d be more than three movies at a time to work with — which, statistically, isn’t much of a meaningful trend.
[Photos: “The Back-Up Plan,” CBS Films, 2010; the original artificial insemination movie “Made In America,” Warner Bros., 1993]