I don’t know what’s more embarrassing: the fact that I paid $10 to go see “Babies” in the theater last week, or the fact that I was riveted and on the edge of my seat for the entire 2 hours of random, plotless baby footage.
For those of you who will never see the movie, I can tell you that it’s exactly what you would expect it to be. A camera follows these four babies around for the first couple of years of their lives. There is no story, no fiction at all, and barely any dialogue– it’s literally just a beautiful, extended home video about 4 toddlers growing up in very different parts of the world.
They cut to the Tokyo baby, and she is sitting by herself in a room full of toys trying to figure out how to get this one yellow stick into this one blue hole. Every time she fails, she throws herself on the ground and screams as if the world is ending, and it’s hilarious. Then they cut to the Mongolian baby, who is sticking his entire arm into a goat’s mouth. The goat is clearly confused, but it doesn’t bite the baby because the baby is so innocent looking. Then they cut to the African baby, who is playing in the dirt with a pile of flies as his mom shaves his head. The African baby is pretty much the cutest baby on the planet, just very smiley and laid-back and easily self-entertained. Finally, they cut to the San Francisco baby, who is having to endure a Mom and baby yoga class with this awful new-age teacher and didgeridoo music. The baby just gets up and walks out of the class, clearly pissed that she is having to do mom-baby yoga with a bunch of yuppies while Mongolian baby gets to play with live goats.
What really surprised me about my experience of this movie is that I was actually repelled by the San Francisco and Tokyo babies. I thought that I would think the babies were all cute in their own little ways, but no. The city babies weren’t cute, I hated all the stuff– the strollers, the cereal choices, the toys, the bouncy chairs, the doting adults. The babies in Mongolia and Africa were just so much more peaceful and happy and simple. They would be sitting in a tub of water and a yak would come up and drink out of the water, and they would just giggle. Silly yak! Get out of my bathtub! But if a yak walked up to the San Francisco baby, the mother would probably mace it in the face and sue the city for negligence, or something.
I thought the movie was going to give me baby fever, but instead, it made me afraid to have a baby in this overstimulated, consumer-driven world. Man, it’s not gonna have a chance! I want to move out to Mongolia when I get pregnant and let the farm animals help raise my kid. No baby showers, no plastic toys, no over-complicated strollers and expensive day-cares. Just sticks and grass and buckets of water and wild animals. I’ll have to bring a sturdy espresso machine.