Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Tonight's Movie: Baby Boom (1987)

The recent passing of Sam Shepard prompted me to pull an old favorite, BABY BOOM (1987), off my DVD shelf.

Despite being filled with unbelievable or illogical storytelling devices, from the casual handoff of a child's custody in an airport to the fact that the baby never ages despite roughly a year passing, BABY BOOM is a film I enjoy returning to time and again. I saw it in a theater when it was first released and have seen it multiple times in the decades since.

Diane Keaton at her most appealing? Check. Sam Shepard as an utterly adorable veterinarian? Double-check. Super-cute baby? Yep. Vermont country fantasy in a gorgeous house with a great kitchen? That too. (We'll forget the part about the leaky roof and the busted water pipes!)

Keaton plays J.C. Wiatt, a savvy businesswoman on her way up the NYC corporate ladder. Other than having a tepid relationship with an equally work-obsessed live-in boyfriend (Harold Ramis), J.C. is all about work, all the time.

That changes when J.C. gets a middle-of-the-night call summoning her to the airport to pick up an inheritance from a British cousin who has just died in an accident along with his wife. J.C. gets the surprise of her life when she's handed little Elizabeth (Kristina and Michelle Kennedy) and told she's now the baby's guardian.

For some reason a woman as smart and organized as J.C. doesn't attempt to get immediate help from a nanny (and those who do show up later are horrors), so she has a series of work disasters due to having a baby in tow. She plans to give up custody of the baby, but very quickly realizes she'd rather have Elizabeth than her boyfriend or even her current career, and off to Vermont they go.

At this point the movie really picks up speed, as the quiet but assertive Dr. Jeff Cooper enters J.C.'s life. They initially clash, as screwball heroes and heroines so often do, but that's simply hiding the attraction and longing underneath, and J.C. soon finds herself awkwardly chatting up the doc in the post office and looking for him at the town dance. The playing of their romance is one of the most delightful and real things in the movie.

I also love the way J.C. puts her business expertise to work researching and marketing her new business in gourmet baby food.

One of the interesting things about watching the movie, three decades on, is that it doesn't seem I first watched it all that long ago (!), yet a number of things have noticeably changed in the years since. For instance, no one is carrying Starbucks into the office; indeed, they drink coffee out of the same kind of horrible plastic cups with inserts which were used in the law office I worked at in the same era.

None of the people hurrying down the busy city streets have their heads buried in smart phones -- and J.C. has a Rolodex on her nightstand! I haven't seen a Rolodex...well, since I worked in an office in the '80s.

And, as seen in a terrific montage sequence, J.C.'s business grows via mail order first use of Amazon was still exactly a decade away when this movie came out.

All in all, this is a delightful film for viewers who are willing to leave a certain amount of logic aside, and it's become a rather interesting time capsule as well. (I haven't mentioned shoulder pads! Or '80s "big hair," though Keaton's style is timeless. The airline is TWA...J.C. shops at FAO Schwarz...and on it goes.)

The supporting cast includes Sam Wanamaker, Pat Hingle, Britt Leach, and a slimy James Spader. The moms in the park include Jane Elliot, who recently retired after playing Tracy Quartermaine for roughly 40 years of GENERAL HOSPITAL.

Incidentally, the twins who played Elizabeth became teachers.

BABY BOOM runs 110 well-paced minutes. It was directed by Charles Shyer, from a script Shyer cowrote with his then-wife, Nancy Meyers. The movie was filmed by William A. Fraker.

BABY BOOM has been released in a limited edition Blu-ray from Twilight Time which includes a commentary track by Julie Kirgo and Nick Redman. It's also been released on DVD and VHS, and it can be rented for streaming via Amazon Instant Video.


Blogger SimpleGifts said...

My daughters and I love BABY BOOM - one of our first VHS tapes! With the recent passing of Sam Shepard and the AFI tribute to Diane Keaton, this beloved film has been on my mind. I never tire of watching Shepherd and Keaton's endearing performances. It's also fun for me to see my high school friend Katherine Borowitz (long married to John Turturro) as one of the yuppie wives discovering the homemade baby applesauce in the country store. Thanks for your lovely review. (By the way, I still use a Rolodex!) - Best, Jane

6:49 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

What fun connection to the movie, Jane! Loved hearing about it.

I was just saying to someone else today that there's something to be said for a Rolodex -- I just had a file inexplicably disappear from my computer contacts list!

Thanks so much for sharing your appreciation of this enjoyable movie. Hope you can revisit it soon!

Best wishes,

11:31 AM  

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