Rasmus A. Sivertsen and Tommy Wirkola’s directorial, “Spermaggedon,” is a cheeky riot of a film. It rides on mischief, wit, and spry humor, taped to a visual imagination that’s free, unfettered, and joyously giddy. It constantly moves between two worlds. One revolves around teenagers Jonathan and Lisa, who reunite during the summer holidays, admit their mutual love, and discover one another’s bodies. Jonathan is a geek who is mostly found at his computer and whose obsessions include Lord of the Rings and Star Wars. That Lisa also shares these likings only accentuates the attraction further.

Most of the film cannot be taken at face value. The leaps of fancy the directors have taken in weaving through the world inside the ballsack of Jonathan ensure the beats of a journey-driven narrative. There is a destination and an objective. Fertilizing the egg is referred to by the title, which holds the appeal of a grand, life-making mission. To get access to the channel, bending towards the egg and making it through is what the minuscule sperm cells, endowed with all shades of personality, have designed their lives around. This is the purpose that’d give ultimate meaning to their lives. It’d render their lives complete and whole and bring in fulfillment.

Naturally, this breeds competitiveness, rivalry, and vicious animosity among the sperm cells. After all, who would manage to sneak into the exclusive, rarefied coterie gets primed as an area of envy and bitterness, with one trying to oust the other. So there are all kinds of cells we are introduced to. Besides the obvious grandstanding, more imperious ones, eager to take the dibs on foraying into the egg wall, we meet the tentative Simen, who balks at the very thought of undertaking the perilous journey.

Spermaggedon (2024)
A still from “Spermaggedon” (2024)

On the headstrong Cumilla’s insistence, they set out. A series of colorful, frenetic adventures unravel. This is a journey fraught with high risks. At any moment, disaster can strike, and any of them can be wiped out. As dread-filled Simen is, Cumilla is adamant, spirited, and intrepid. She will not pause to mull over the stakes and refuses to consider the range of obstacles they will be bombarded by at every step of the way. The directors cut between their adventures and the encounter between Jonathan and Lisa. In this equation, too, it is Lisa who takes charge. The two try to be cautious, though Jonathan is so overwhelmed by the experience, making for an amusing spree of episodes that he tends to create a forgetful mess. Their methods of protection constitute a set of damning impediments in the revved-up sperm cells.

Few missteps rankle the otherwise lively film. It is replete with detours, including a poop-gobbling bacterium that takes up too much time than it should have, especially because it borders on being a dull indulgence. The antagonist figure, decked up in a suit, feels like a stale mix of stock traits without possessing any singular threatening charisma. A musical sequence about safe, careful sex and its implications comes a little too late, and when it does, the tone is inescapably didactic. These things take some of the shine off the pleasures in the film.

Despite such hiccups, “Spermaggedon” manages to retain a raucously entertaining energy. A delightful whimsy coats the adventures of the sperm cells, while the sexual encounter between Jens and Lisa is refreshingly frank and uncoy. Prudes may take umbrage at the appropriateness of the degree to which the sex scenes go, but this film is, without a shred of a doubt, equally invested with maturity and sober thought as regards the repercussions of the heightened intimacy.

Spermaggedon premiered at Annecy Film Festival 2024.

Spermaggedon (2024) Movie Links: IMDb

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