Wednesday, May 05, 2010

BABIES: The Film Babble Blog Review

BABIES (Dir. Thomas Balmes, 2010)

How can I write a review of this movie without sounding like a hater?

I guess it's not possible because the bottom line is I'm just not into babies. In fact today my wife and I told a doctor that we are 100% certain that we are never going to have kids - that's all I'm going to say about that situation here.

So the idea of a documentary made up completely of shots of babies really didn't appeal to me, enough that I almost skipped the screening. I decided to try to be open as a film lover and a documentary lover and check it out regardless.

Hate to say that it was exactly what I thought it would be, only somehow much duller. But if you like babies, like most of the population seems to, you may find the footage of 4 separate babies from 4 different corners of the world (San Francisco, Toyko, Namibia, and Mongolia) delightful.

We're given little information apart from titles indicating locations and times (only a few of those) as Balmes cuts back and forth from the babies. There is no narrator and very little English is spoken by one of the sets of parents. It's just babies crying (happily this is kept to a minimum), babies crawling, babies harassing animals (also animals harassing babies), babies sleeping, and an unbearable amount of clips of babies doing nothing but being babies.

There is some context in the manner of culture clashing. Balmes goes from one baby lying on an expensive carpet being dabbed by a parent with a lint roller to another baby shown playing in the dirt of their impoverished village fiddling with rocks and bits of bones. As it's used throughout the film, a little of this sort of contrast goes a long way. BABIES is a definitive "is it what it is" movie - I'm inclined to say if you like babies you'll like it, but I suspect hardcore baby lovers might get bored too.

Even at its merciful 79 minute running time it feels too lengthy and I sure didn't learn anything new from it. Learning something new is the main reason I love documentaries. The best ones shape footage into an insightful narrative giving you a fresh portrait of their subjects, but BABIES is just blandly basic and never justifies its existence for being.

It's like an annoying parent who over estimates their offspring's cuteness over and over. Then again I'm just a baby basher - what do I know?

More later...


Angie said...

hahah this is funny! I tend to agree. I'm not so much into seeing this one as I am the new OCEANS documentary!

Sammy V said...

Couldn't agree more. Are we bad people for not wanting to watch babies move around and make noise for over an hour...really, what was the point, and why did so many film critics enjoy it?


Dave Johnson said...

No need to apologize for not liking babies. I'd wager that most people who have children are not "into babies" and also that most people find that other peoples babies pretty boring, obnoxious, etc.

Since you dig kitties, a good thought experiment for this movie would be to imagine that it was called "Kitties" and was all about wonderful kitties. Would it still suck?

Daniel Cook Johnson said...

I think it probably would suck, Dave. Kitties can be pretty f-in' boring sometimes. I bet a movie cutting back and forth from cats from 4 parts of the world would put me to sleep.

Jill said...

especially if it was about someone else's kitties. uggh.

Jill said...

especially if it was about someone else's kitties. uggh.