Saturday, November 16, 2013

Evokes maternal instincts - Baby Boom

A working woman’s smooth career up the ladder meets some unexpected bumps when she inherits a toddler from a long lost relative. Forced to take up a crash course on adoption, J C Waitt tries to juggle her ambitious profession with the new addition to her life. She is ill prepared for such a turnover since she is a woman with no time to spare.

Though her live-in relationship is hardly anything worth talking about the baby’s presence takes a toll on it. J C’s maternal instincts are aroused and she has to reexamine her own feelings on what she wants in life: to enter the rat race of success or to have a peaceful living where she can earn her bread and butter through her own innovative talents.

An alien chore

There are a handful of uniquely hilarious moments in Charles Shyer’s ‘Baby Boom’. One such incident involves J C trying to check the baby into a coatroom when she has a business lunch. Another incident involves her efforts in trying to feed baby Elizabeth. With no idea on what to feed the infant, she cooks pasta for Elizabeth and then ties to clean up the mess with a household cleaner.

Another detail in which the film excels is in the sarcasm it directs at the manner in which infants are treated in the high-pressure New York setup. Bewildered toddlers have to attend strenuous gym classes where their parents pour out their woes about private school rejections.

‘Baby Boom’ also embodies an inspiring message. Though the concept that a woman cannot achieve success as well as have a family is addressed it shows that success cannot be measured entirely with wealth. Satisfaction and happiness go hand in hand and those were the features that have been lacking in the protagonist’s life from the start.

This is why J C declines the offer of purchasing her business which is made to her by her former company. Though she realizes that she can make millions out of the deal, she also becomes aware of the fact that she can run her business while raising Elizabeth in the country. Though the stories flow in different courses, there are similarities between ‘Baby Boom’ and the 1983 American comedy drama film ‘Mr Mom.’

This is because both movies star capable adults who have to suddenly deal with the task of raising kids which is an alien chore for them. Apart from that the two share little else in common because Shyer’s version features a working woman who finds a baby suddenly dropped onto her lap while Stan Dragoti’s ‘Mr Mom’ is about a stay-at-home dad.

A different setting

One of the noteworthy errors that the film makes is in sending J C off to lead a simpler life in the country. Sure the pressure of the city gets to her but the gay manner in which she adjusts to the village environs seems artificial.

This element is enhanced when the ex New York businesswoman manages to develop a classy recipe for baby applesauce from the products from her own orchard which starts selling like hot cakes, firstly in the village, then across the country.

This is oversimplifying the situation. To add insult to injury J C also conveniently meets a lonely small town bachelor to complete her fairytale story. Screenplay writers Nancy Meyers and director Shyer should have given some though to the matter and penned it in a more realistic manner.

Diane Keaton dishes out a superb performance as J C Wiatt. She has a wonderfully maniacal gleam her eyes each time she succeeds in mastering a baby-related trick. She manages to transform her prim character of a success-crazed young professional to a likable one with amazing grace.

She fits into the role of the high-energy female executive as easily as she slips into the coming of age personality of J C who finds content in a different setting - one she might not have even dreamed about in her life. Yet Keaton manages to make all this believable through her self confident act. The episodes she bonds with baby Elizabeth are truly touching and would bring about nostalgic memories to all parents. ‘Baby Boom’ might not be more than a sitcom but it keeps you entertained and giggling in your seats. Heartwarming, sentimental and simplistic this movie is sure to become an all time favourite among your collection of movies. 

Ruwini Jayawardana -