Judge David Johnson thinks it's pretty cool to hear John McClane talk about taking a dump in his diaper.
Alright, alright, I'm looking already!
Before John Travolta re-emerged as a Hollywood heavyweight, before Kirstie Alley became…well, a regular heavyweight, there was Look Who's Talking, the 1989 film that kept Travolta working and introduced a gimmick that would subsequently be milked for two sequels.
Facts of the Case
Sony has boxed together the three Look Who's Talking movies in one handy-dandy set. That was thoughtful of them.
• Look Who's Talking
The original. Mollie (Kirstie Alley, Cheers) is an accountant desperately in love with her client, Albert (George Segal). Unfortunately, Albert is a married man with two children, and though he continuously promises to divorce his wife, it never seems to happen.
The stakes get higher, however, when Mollie discovers she's pregnant with Albert's baby. Enter Mikey (voiced by Bruce Willis, Die Hard). We follow Mikey through gestation to birth and beyond, and he conveniently provides us with an ongoing inner monologue.
When Mollie catches Albert cheating on her, she storms off, infuriated. Things get worse when she goes into labor. She jumps into the nearest taxi, driven by James Ubriacco (John Travolta, Get Shorty), who takes her on a wild taxi ride to the hospital and ends up in the delivery room. From then on he is inexorably linked to Mollie and Mikey. He begins babysitting Mikey, and the two instantly bond, while Mollie consumes herself with finding a good father for her son. So, do you think James and Mollie might end up together?
• Look Who's Talking Too
Released one year after the first film, the sequel finds James and Mollie married, Mikey growing, and a new addition to the family ready to go. Julie (voiced by Roseanne, Roseanne) comes tumbling into reality and must contend with her big brother, who may not be all that happy to have her around, and has a lot on his mind anyway with the whole potty training thing.
Meanwhile, James and Mollie's marriage becomes strained when Mollie's unstable brother (Elias Koteas, The Thin Red Line) shows up at her door. The husband and wife clash over the unexpected visitor, and separate. But who can stay away from such cute kids? James and Mollie attempt to mend fences, amidst a raucous climax that finds the two little kids caught in the middle of a jewel heist gone wrong and a towering inferno(!).
• Look Who's Talking Now
The kids are finally old enough to use their own voices (and Julie has grown into a remarkably awkward-looking child). Mollie has unexpectedly been fired, and James, just as unexpectedly, has been offered a prestigious job as an airline pilot. But his new boss, a sultry blonde bombshell named Samantha (Lysette Anthony), has her own plans for James.
The Ubriacco family has added two more members: Daphne (voiced by Diane Keaton, Something's Gotta Give) and Rocks (voiced by Danny Devito, Twins), two dogs. Rocks is a mangy street dog and Daphne is a prim and proper poodle, yet there is an undeniable mutual attraction, and the two strike up a tenuous relationship. You can cut the sexual tension with a butter knife with these two. So you've got Mollie and James mad at each other again (because James is too busy with his job to spend time with the family), Mikey struggling with the knowledge that Santa may not exist, Julie just hanging out, and the dogs ready to save the day. Seriously.
Talk about flogging a dead horse. These are some of the biggest gimmick movies ever. The first film introduced the gimmick, and thus had the element of originality on its side. The latter two's use of the dubbing-famous-people's-voices-onto-cute-kids-and-animals ploy exponentially grew less quirky and more irritating. Look Who's Talking is no doubt the best of the three. Writer-director Amy Heckerling (director of Clueless) combined the gimmicky aspect of Bruce Willis laying a voice track over a cute, mugging baby with an interesting story of a single woman seeking a suitable father for said baby.
I've always found Look Who's Talking compulsively watchable. If I stumble on it while channel surfing, I'm sucked into watching more than I planned. The writing is sharp and the casting is excellent. Travolta and Alley are good together in the three movies, though the persistent schisms that arise between the two in the sequels turned them into more of a case study on dysfunctional marriages. Again, the first movie sports the best performances. Travolta is very charming in a self-deprecating way, and Alley does neurotic mom well. Supporting performances from Olympia Dukakis and Abe Vagoda class up the picture even more. Of course, what separates these films from the average romantic comedy is the inner-voice-of-the-baby trick; Bruce Willis is great fun in the role.
Look Who's Talking Too is definitely a step down in quality. Roseanne (Barr at the time) was almost certainly added because of her television popularity. While I've always though her shrill voice was akin to screwdrivers dragged on plate steel, she does have a unique delivery. So now we've got two kids with dubbed voices (why Mikey, who may be three by now, isn't talking for real is mildly disturbing), which just doesn't have the uniqueness of the first one. Not to mention the weak plot—what kind of dad is James to dump his family over a stupid disagreement over his brother-in-law? And the fiery finale is just over the top.
Pun intended, Look Who's Talking Now is the dog of the trilogy (is it acceptable in geekdom to refer to these three movies as a "trilogy"?). I mean, talking dogs? Really? That's so direct-to-video Disney. And, surprise, surprise, Mollie and James are on the rocks again. Everything is dopier in this installment. The dream sequences, a staple in all three movies, had hit their high point with George Segal's exploding head in the first film. Everything from there was just stupid. Seriously, baby Julie playing Charles Barkley one on one? A way-too-long dancing sequence with Travolta, who's obviously bored out of his mind? No thanks. Heckerling gave up the writing and directing reins and became a producer, and her absence is obvious. Look Who's Talking Now lacks the charm the first had to burn, and that the second had in small amounts, and plays as a lackluster Homeward Bound knockoff.
All three movies are presented on separate discs. For some reason each film is forced into worthless full screen, which is worthless. The first film receives the shakiest transfer, with a few noticeable flaws presenting themselves. But other than the full frame (did I mention it was worthless?) the picture quality is clean enough. All three movies also come with a decent enough, though front-loaded, 2.0 stereo mix.
A few trailers are it for special features—a colossal waste.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
These films are rated PG-13. Why? While the first movie does have more of an adult theme to it (uh, she birthed a bastard child from a married family man), the last two lend themselves to more of a family audience. And why a talking-animals movie is rated higher than PG is beyond me. Smooth marketing move, Columbia.
The first one's good, the second one's kind of good, the last one blows. And they're not even entirely kid-friendly! Hey, you know your finances better than me—you decide if this set is worth your dough.
We're going to have to go with guilty, for Gimmick Abuse in the third degree.
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