There comes a point in the new film “When the Bough Breaks,” which opens Sept. 9, when things go from bad to worse. Sure, Regina Hall and Morris Chestnut start out playing average American couple John and Laura Taylor — he’s a high-powered attorney, she’s a superstar chef (you know, typical). And their infertility woes are solved when they find Anna (alluring newcomer Jaz Sinclair), aka the “perfect” surrogate.
But quicker than you can say “baby bump,” plot twists abound. An incident with Anna’s abusive boyfriend (“Sons of Anarchy’s” Theo Rossi) leads the Taylors to take her in, and we soon realize the surrogate may be a con artist, crazy — or both.
These days, more and more hopeful folks (infertile, gay or otherwise) are seeking surrogates to start a family, and one has to wonder: Do any of these people watch movies? For all the current talk of the many ways in which Americans are redefining family, Hollywood’s take on surrogacy seems, well, less than encouraging. Here are just a few troubling takes from the big and small screens.
PATERNITY (1981) Bachelor Burt Reynolds seeks surrogate Beverly D’Angelo for no-strings baby-making. Nobody’s psychotic, but the goo-goo-ga-ga theme song and opening credits (endless baby photos as toddlers cry) will drive you stark . . . raving . . . mad!
THE HANDMAID’S TALE (1990) In an Orwellian (and mostly infertile) future, the state forces Natasha Richardson to have Robert Duvall and Faye Dunaway’s baby. A dreary rehash of Margaret Atwood’s original bestseller.
BABY MAMA (2008) Uptight executive Tina Fey hires trashy, karaoke-loving surrogate Amy Poehler to have her baby. No one wins in this surprisingly mediocre movie.
THE NEW NORMAL (2012-13) Georgia King moves in with gay power couple Andrew Rannells and Justin Bartha as she prepares to have their baby. (Cute premise; canceled after one season.)
PRETTY MUCH ANYTHING ON LIFETIME TV The women’s network has churned out “The Surrogate” (2013), “The Surrogacy Trap” (2013) and “Sorority Surrogate” (2014), featuring baby mamas who were, respectively, psycho, more psycho and drowning in melodrama when the parents of the baby the surrogate’s carrying suddenly die.
A DEADLY ADOPTION (2015) Back to Lifetime, where creepy surrogate Jessica Lowndes terrorizes parents-to-be Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig. Wait — for real? Yes, but nothing’s played for laughs here. Pity. You’re actually rooting for the nut-job surrogate, if only to put Ferrell and Wiig out of their apparent misery.