OK, so here’s the deal: our power was out all weekend and I was unable to prep for the post and giveaway I had planned for today. Hopefully I can get that up tomorrow morning; for now enjoy this “Mom & Kid Movie Review” that I wrote for work.
I took Cassidy to the 9:30am screening of the documentary BABIES the morning it opened, anticipating an action-packed weekend of Mother’s Day revelry and not wanting to miss my chance to see this movie.
There is no plot here, no attempt to create a cohesive storyline. BABIES is a series of moments, from birth to first steps, in the lives of four babies from four different cultures: Ponijao from Namibia, Bayar in Mongolia, Mari in Tokyo, and Hattie in San Francisco. It’s a different sort of movie experience, unless you are a documentary addict (like I am). There is no building to a climax or any overt conflict. It is not fast-paced, which I thought was appropriate. I felt it was a reflection of how babies view their own worlds: what is happening now, and what happens next.
Cassidy LOVED this movie. With no complicated plot to follow, no dialogue to figure out, and no bad guys to worry about, she was delighted to take each moment as it came with an “Awwww….!” or howling laughter. Many of my friends have recently had babies, and she loved recognizing that “Michael Lee used to do that.” She wanted to know about her own first steps and whether she ever bit her brothers as a baby (she sure did). For the first time ever, she did not ask me a dozen times if the movie was almost over. I’m not certain that she realized there were 4 babies that we were revisiting throughout the film, she may have thought we were watching hundreds of babies. No matter, it didn’t get old for her. She loves them babies.
I loved seeing how different cultures raise their little ones, and the opportunity to see what babies do “behind-the-scenes” when mom isn’t helicoptering overhead. (In fact, my major takeaway from this film is that we need to give our babies way more alone time.) I loved seeing them attempt to secure things that were out of reach, or explore the kitty flicking its tail in front of them, or intently watch a fly on the ground, or have an “aha” moment when they joyfully discover their own feet.
In particular, I fell in love with the Mongolian baby, Bayar, and his older brother. I wanted to put those kids in my pocket and take them home with me, or maybe raise my next baby on a farm in Mongolia (just kidding, I am NOT having any more babies). The older brother is the epitome of mischief and testing limits; I felt like he was daring the cameraman to step in with some of his antics. There were several moments when the scene cut away and I wanted to wail, “Nooooo!!! What happened next?”
The American family, sadly, was my least favorite. I found the parents difficult to connect with. Even though I’m admittedly a crunchy granola mom myself, I thought they were over the top with their earthy hipness. At one point the father (I think) was vacuuming while Hattie played on the floor nearby; when he was done he rolled Hattie over and cleaned her off with A LINT ROLLER. As someone who subscribes to the idea that “a dirty child is a happy child” I was embarrassed by the notion that other countries who see the film will think this is “typically American” behavior. COUNTRIES OF THE WORLD: NOT ALL AMERICANS ARE NEAT FREAKS. Thanks.
A word of warning, moms: there is a fair amount of bare booby and baby penis in this movie. The African families are topless and the babies often naked. This didn’t bother me any, but surprised Cass. She kept telling me that “I can see his penis!” Luckily, we were at that very early showing and were alone in the theater– I’m not sure how much her comments would have been appreciated in a crowded theater. If you don’t want your kids to see nudity you may want to sit this one out; at the very least you should tell them about it ahead of time so that hopefully they won’t titter or ask questions too loudly.
All in all, this was a film we really enjoyed and I think was powerful to see on the big screen. If you watch a lot of documentaries about other cultures there isn’t anything mind-blowingly new here, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. It well captured the joy and wonder of a child who is learning about the world around them for the first time. The simplicity and universality of the babies’ actions and the love you feel from their families kept a big dopey smile on my face throughout.
The music kept Cassidy dancing in the aisles (another reason I was grateful for the private screening), and the scenery and cinematography were lovely.
BABIES made me long for those days when my kids were so cute and cuddly and new. It almost made me want to have another baby. (But I’m not.)
Local peeps, this movie is now showing at the Regal in Brandywine Town Center.
Mom Rating: A-, a little slow
Kid Rating (5 year old girl): A+ “My favorite movie EVER.”
Have you seen BABIES? What did you think?
Out of curiosity, does the nudity affect your decision to take your kids to see it?