“Babies” is all kinds of cute and cuddly, in fact it’s the only card up its sleeve, but when you have curious big-eyed babies I think that’s all you really need. This is coming from someone who doesn’t have any desire to hold a baby, sure I want kids someday but if I can hold as few babies as possible before that day then I think that I’ve run a successful operation.
Why you’ll like this:
You enjoy seeing cute baby faces, noises and random behavior.
The premise of “Babies” is more than plain, and a little difficult to call a documentary other than the strictest sense of the word, it’s literally just documenting babies via video. There’s four babies in four cultures, San Francisco, Tokyo, Namibia and Mongolia, there is no narration and very little structure. We simply see the babies progress from birth to about the age of 2 years old.
I’ve always found it curious that maternal nudity is not really going to get a movie/TV show any bad rating, I’m not saying I disagree just that I find it interesting, I can’t imagine a normal Hollywood film getting a PG rating even if they replicated any of the circumstantial nudity here. I know, that’s off-topic, but there’s plenty of nudity since a fourth of the film takes place in some remote African tribe where the women have found the best advertisement for selling bras in America, I had no idea how much I would appreciate our Western ways until seeing this, but it also might have something to do with how they treat their breasts like Gatorade water bottles during a Super Bowl timeout. Gross. No, I don’t care about “Oh, it’s nature, it’s beautiful!”, because you’re wrong, other than my natural American instinct I have nothing to back me up, but you are definitely wrong.
I didn’t think there would be a way to make the San Francisco baby interesting since I’m already well versed in American culture, but they found a nice flower-power kind of family where she was as naked as any of the Namibians, for no apparent reason. At one point I’m pretty sure the baby tried to flee, rightly so. There didn’t seem anything too unique about the Japanese culture, but the Mongolian baby was my favorite, plenty of sibling rivalry and animal torture.
Why you won’t like this:
No explosions, dialogue (or translations) or anything but babies.
The music played a big part in transitioning topics such as baby-talk, the first step, playing with others (at times, literally), and general baby gooeyness. They all had lots of personality, throwing fits and torturing pets, discovering the world, thanks to going the obvious route of shooting really low and on the babies’ level along with mostly set camera shots you really get a sense of the awe and wonderment that children experience. I can’t say I’ll watch this ever again, but for the sheer amount of ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ this was well worth the price of admission (fine, it was a free screening, but worth it) and you should be prepared to either bring your own commentary or listen to others’ because that’s what babies do to people. Everybody loves “Babies”, including me.
3 out of 5 Stars.
Starring: Bayar, Mari, Ponijao, Mari
Director: Thomas Balmes
Running Time: 1 hr. 22 min.
Release Date: May 7, 2010