Directed by: Thomas Balmès
Running Time: 1 hr. 19 mins
Release Date: May 7, 2010
PLOT: This documentary follows four babies from around the world. We see everything from the birth, to the first steps. There is cultural nudity and lots of breast feeding.
WHO’S IT FOR? I know moms is the correct answer here. I’m thinking women who just recently went through this would rather spend time thinking about their babies. On the other hand, moms who have seen their kids grow up might love to look back and remember what a newborn is like.
Babies. Babies. Babies. Dogs. Babies. Babies. Cats. Babies. Babies. Toddlers.
When you just read that, did a smile come across your face? If the answer is “yes,” then you’ve passed the first step to understand whether or not Babies is for you. There is more to it than being knee deep in cuteness.
First, let me introduce to you the babies: Ponijao, who lives with her family near Opuwo, Namibia; Bayarjargal, who resides with his family in Mongolia, near Bayanchandmani; Mari, who lives with her family in Tokyo, Japan; and Hattie, who resides with her family in the United States, in San Francisco.
This feels like an art project more than anything else. It’s an experiment for the creators and also the audience. There’s a reason a film doesn’t exist (though someone will probably tell me there is) where we just look at paintings. It’s something that should be in the background, and that’s where this movie belongs. I could easily see watching this while folding laundry, going through the mail or reading a magazine. It doesn’t demand or capture your attention, except in little 30 second bursts. I’m not saying babies aren’t cute. I will say newborns are ugly for the most part, and this movie did a good job (or lucky job) with getting some photogenic little ones.
Culturally, we learn a little, but it just seems like a little. What other societies do in order to clean poop off a baby, yeah, that was a little surprising. There are magical moments as well. I’m fascinated to see a baby choose to cross his legs when he sits. Something we culturally do, the baby naturally does.
It actually took me a while (until they were crawling) to realize we were watching the babies age. That’s because the talking is extremely limited. And that “bop, bop, bop” music that is peppered throughout the film. It didn’t work for me. Sufjan Stevens has a song in the closing credits, and it would have helped a lot if his music could have been present throughout.
It’s weird to say this film is OK, and also wish it was about an hour shorter. There just isn’t enough on screen to keep you from thinking, “Yup, I get it, babies are pretty cute.” And before you decide I am a baby hater, I’m truly looking forward to fatherhood in the next couple of years. Yes, my wife knows we’re expecting in two to five years.
FINAL SCORE: 5/10