Annecy 2024 Review: SPERMAGEDDON, Outrageous Comedy Meets Heartwarming Sex-Ed in Year's Most Unlikely Family Film

Directors Tommy Wirkola and Rasmus A. Sivertsen deliver a hilariously heartwarming 3D animation romp that intertwines a wild microscopic adventure with the awkwardness of the first sexual experience.

Contributor; Slovakia (@martykudlac)
Annecy 2024 Review: SPERMAGEDDON, Outrageous Comedy Meets Heartwarming Sex-Ed in Year's Most Unlikely Family Film

Norwegian genre-meister Tommy Wirkola teams up with his compatriot, seasoned animator and director Rasmus A. Sivertsen, known for family-friendly movies, to create the hilarious and unexpectedly heartwarming 3D animation, Spermageddon.

This unlikely partnership combines Wirkola’s flair for the outrageous with Sivertsen’s touch of innocence, resulting in a film that defies easy categorization. The central story is about a rat race to fertilize an egg, captured from the perspective of spermatozoa, and a pair of teenagers trying to prevent that.

Wirkola and Sivertsen open the film with a vintage 2D animated PSA about where sperm is not supposed to end to successfully fulfill their raison d'être. After the short clip, the framing of the story becomes clearer yet no less perplexing.

The directors follow a group of sperm students being taught how to achieve their life purpose of starting a new life. The protagonists in the testicular microworld are nerdy Simon and his crush, the overachieving Cumilla. The sperm puns just start there, and there is a galore of them throughout the running time.

At the same time, nerdy teenager Jens is going to a summer camping trip with his friends and girls. Despite his brain cells expectations, he hooks up with Lisa and gets to pop the cherry. And then some.

Jens' awkward and hapless grasping of his first sexual encounters is juxtaposed with Simen and Cumilla's mission to reach Lisa's egg, which turns into a life-or-death ordeal in a true fashion of the hero's journey. As the title suggests, the genre tropes are tossed around in the ballsack from high school musical, through caper, and apocalypse to a variety of action-filled tropes, led by the archnemesis, an evil, buffed Tony-Stark-like sperm, Jizzmo.

The sperm story is a crossover between Pixar’s Inside Out and Rick and Mortys episode Anatomy Park. The adventure is not always biologically precise—sperms, along with their teac

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her Professor Saltsmak, end up at some point in an intestine and, with the help of E. coli, proceed towards the womb—but it is jam-packed with puns, gags, genre trope twists, and callbacks to classic films. In between, Wirkola and Sivertsen manage to sandwich musical numbers, ranging from a singing choir of sperms to a gynecologist advocating for family planning.

Jens and Lisa’s (slap)sticky encounter is a teen sex comedy: appropriately awkward, but not overly heavy on puns and gags. It leans towards edutainment, focusing on consensual intercourse, safe sex, and parental planning even if a huge bee nest falls on Jens' genitals. Despite the humor and lighthearted approach, the film manages to convey important messages about sexual health and relationships, making it a blend of comedy and educational content.

The tension between the two parallel storylines is heightened by the contrast between the pairs of protagonists; what the sperms are trying to achieve is exactly what Lisa is trying to prevent. This dual perspective tackles themes of sex, reproduction, and the awkwardness of first-time experiences with humor that is both juvenile and pedagogical.

The film deftly balances these two storylines, making the journey of the sperms both an epic quest and a hilarious romp, while Jens and Lisa's story grounds the film in relatable teenage experiences. By switching between these perspectives, Wirkola and Sivertsen manage to explore topics in a way that is accessible and entertaining. The humor, while often cheeky, is handled with a light touch, ensuring that the film remains appropriate for a family audience, though the younger generations the film is targeting as Gen Z and Gen Alpha are the ones most likely “educated” by Pornhub.

The film does not shy away from addressing issues of safe sex and reproductive rights, while challenging social taboos with a light touch that belies its serious underpinnings. Wirkola and Sivertsen navigate these themes in a manner that ensures the film remains accessible to a younger audience, helped by the Pixaresque cute animation, while still resonating with adults.

Jens' parents are modeled upon a hipster generation that lacks the boomer boundaries and does not shy away from intimate details. This combination makes Spermageddon probably the most unlikeliest family movie in the history of cinema.

Spermageddon is the sex-ed millennials never knew they wanted but got for their offspring. Wirkola and Sivertsen’s romp is the result between The Mating Habits of the Earthbound Human if made by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and American Pie by Pixar. It has the potential to become a cult classic if given a chance in distribution, though it may face some obstruction in conservative-leaning territories.

The film recently screened at the 2024 Annecy International Animation Film Festival

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Annecy International Animation Film Festival 2024

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