A comedy about the labours of love.
She's Having a Baby is one of John Hughes lesser "adult" pictures but retains a charm of its own. Its combination of situational and observational comedy with offbeat visualizations inside the minds of the characters has been copied ever since, notably on television series such as "Ally McBeal." Kevin Bacon does a first rate job playing a white-collar shmuck trying to make it through life and marriage. Paramount has released this along with the much better Hughes film Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, but with no better luck on the quality of the disc.
Facts of the Case
Kevin Bacon is Jefferson "Jake" Briggs, and is just about to marry his high school sweetheart Kristy (Elizabeth McGovern—The House of Mirth), despite some reservations voiced by himself and his best friend Davis (Alec Baldwin, in one of his better roles). But the marriage goes through, and the couple deals with the trials that face them such as college, career, and in-laws. The simple pleasures of life and family compete with the lofty goals Jake once set for himself, and what might have been, personified in a fantasy woman who seems to crop up everywhere he looks. Will Jake do "the right thing," especially when it's time to start a family?
This film doesn't deal in big issues. Only the minutiae of life is given real time, although you could say some of the small stuff is more important in the lives of most people. Dealing with disapproving in-laws, brands of lawn mowers, and furniture arrangement all deserve as much worry as whether Jake will finish his masters degree or whether the couple will have a baby. This slice of life picture is endearing in its own way, especially for people who are just starting that journey from singledom to married life.
Most of Hughes' films offer sharp and funny dialogue, and this is no exception. Particularly good is the scene in which Jake lies on his résumé to get a job in advertising, and is caught red-handed. Other scenes taken from the mind and point of view of the characters work with varying success. When Jake finds that Kristy has stopped taking her birth control pills, Jake sees himself on a rocket car heading for a brick wall, which worked. On the other hand, I didn't need to see men and women doing a choreographed dance number while pushing lawn mowers on suburban lawns. I believe these scenes are what people didn't get at the time it was released; perhaps the film was ahead of its time.
Regardless of the "smallness" of the film and its scope, the performances are strong. Kevin Bacon underplays the role, but that is what was required. I also liked the in law characters played by William Windom and Cathryn Damon, whose banter and preconceptions made them real.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Unfortunately the disc wasn't as good as it could have been. The transfer is anamorphic at least, but the image quality is soft and there is often a hazy look to the picture. The image also suffered from noise and other artifact problems. It's still watchable, and preferable to the old VHS, but not nearly what I've come to expect from Paramount. The sound is a typical comedy track; mainly dialogue relegated to the center channel with a few directional effects and the musical score everywhere else. The sound is clear enough, though there was a bit of distortion noticeable at times. This Dolby Digital 5.1 track is the only English track on the disc, despite the label saying there is a separate Dolby Surround.
To make matters worse, only a trailer is offered for extras. Missing is anything substantial like a Hughes commentary, which would have been welcome.
Though overall I like the film, I am rather ambivalent about it. It's a decent film, but hardly a great one. I classify it more as a diversion for a couple hours rather than something memorable.
This is a marginal disc and only a decent film. Give it a rental along with other Hughes favorites like Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, but save your money for something better.
John Hughes and the cast of She's Having a Baby are acquitted for a good if only decent effort. Paramount is found guilty of inadequate work, and is put on probation until much better work has been shown.
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