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  She's Having a Baby Ball And Chain
Year: 1988
Director: John Hughes
Stars: Kevin Bacon, Elizabeth McGovern, Alec Baldwin, William Windom, Holland Taylor, Cathryn Damon, John Ashton, James Ray, Dennis Dugan, Larry Hankin, Nancy Lenehan, Isabel García Lorca, Reba McKinney, Bill Irwin, Paul Gleason, Al Leong, Edie McClurg
Genre: Comedy, DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: On the wedding day of Jefferson Briggs (Kevin Bacon) he sat in a car with his best friend Davis (Alec Baldwin) considering whether he was doing the right thing. As he thought it over, his parents and the parents of his fiancée grumbled about him and how he was unsuitable for the married life, and Jefferson, known to his friends as Jake, wasn't too sure himself. He was going to be late if he hung around any longer, and after Davis offered him the chance to walk away from Kristy (Elizabeth McGovern), the woman he loved, because he was too young, because he needed more time, whatever, he opted to wed her. But had he made the right decision?

The title She's Having a Baby might make you think this was writer and director John Hughes' high-spirited laugh fest about, well, having babies, but what you actually got for your attention was a downbeat and reflective story concerned with whether married life was really worth all that trouble, indeed, babies don't enter into the plot until the film is more than two-thirds of the way over with. This would appear to be what happens to the romantic teens of the films Hughes made his name with after they have to face growing up, and it's not the pretty picture of domestic bliss that those previous efforts might have you anticipating.

In fact, there's an air of disillusionment running through the whole enterprise - could this be how Hughes really felt about relationships? Along the way he adds in fantasy sequences in a bid to make this seem more light hearted, even a musical number featuring the Briggs' neighbours, but seeing as how they have previously been depicted as petty, parochial and generally not worth getting to know it's stuff like this which sums up the sour feeling to the drama, never mind the comedy, rendering much of it laugh free. It's like having an old friend round and suffering under his newfound and unexpected sarcasm and faux-hearty, actually cynical worldview.

Bacon does well enough in his role, a young man finding it difficult to admit that he is dreading his new life of settling down with a job he doesn't enjoy (he really wants to be the writer of what else but the Great American Novel?) and a woman that he never wanted to marry in the first place. There's an ominous lack of affection between Jake and Kristy, and McGovern is landed with a thankless, cardboard role which gives her no opportunity for us to understand why these two ever got together in the first place, never mind get hitched to each other.

Jake even gets his own temptation with the far more alluring mystery woman Isabel García Lorca, an inviting proposition compared to his wife. Despite all this, to all appearances a loveless or at least one-sided marriage, Kristy wants a baby and manages to persuade the reluctant Jake to participate and for the final act the motherhood theme raises its head. Except from what you might be expecting it would be more of an "I don't want to be a father" theme, but Hughes manufactures a hard-to-swallow turnaround complete with treacly sentimental ending in the hospital, although this comes with a cruel item of audience manipulation when there are complications. If you can accept that having a baby can save Jake and Kristy's marriage, then it might well appear as if Hughes feels nothing but contempt for you; he has already shown his true, pessimistic colours during the rest of the film. It's like a romantic comedy written by someone going through a messy divorce where by the end he says, "Here's your happy ending! Choke on it!". Music by Stewart Copeland.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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John Hughes  (1950 - 2009)

American writer/director of some of the 80s most enduring mainstream comedies. Debuted in 1984 with the witty teen romp Sixteen Candles (which introduced Molly Ringwald and John Cusack to the world) before directing The Breakfast Club, one of the decade's defining movies, the following year. Weird Science, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Planes, Trains and Automobiles and Uncle Buck were all huge hits, while Chris Columbus's Home Alone (which Hughes wrote) quickly became the most successful comedy of all time. Quit directing in 1991, but continued to be a prolific screenwriter and producer until his untimely death.

 
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