Babies – Movie Review
A look at one year in the life of four babies from around the world, from Mongolia to Namibia to San Francisco to Tokyo
Babies is the greatly anticipated documentary about four newborns in four different corners of the world, Mongolia, Africa, United States, and Japan. These are all adorable-faced babies, and what’s not to love about a baby? It goes 80 minutes, and to a certain extent it probably could have used some judicious cutting. The problem is, I think, that the director tries too hard for parallelism to show similar behaviors in different cultures or to show how, for example, American babies and Japanese babies are stimulated nearly constantly and how Mongolian babies and African babies are left to their own devices much more. Point well taken, but I don’t know how many times we have to see it. If the director had had less of a concern for showing similarities and differences, I think the movie might have been stronger. But it’s an interesting attempt. There’s almost no dialogue. Occasionally a mommy is talking to her baby. Sometimes you can understand what she’s saying, sometimes not. What I did take away from the movie was this: all babies are of course cute, sibling rivalry is real and dangerous and occurs in all cultures, children who have interaction with parents are significantly more sophisticated, although perhaps less self-reliant, and that there seems to be something inherent in children that determines their personality from the moment of birth. Happy children are going to be happy, tenacious children are going to be tenacious, stubborn children are going to be stubborn. Also I learned that small children are not well suited to animals, cats in particular, and Americans worry too much about hygiene. But this is a movie that’s really fun to watch. You just wish that it had been a little less sociological and a little bit more entertaining. But, having said that, I’ll still give it three stars.