• Baby Boom

    Released By: Twilight Time
    Released On: March 14, 2017.
    Director: Charles Shyer
    Cast: Diane Keaton, Harold Ramis, Sam Shepard, Sam Wanamaker, James Spader, Pat Hingle, Mary Gross
    Year: 1987
    Purchase From Screen Archives

    The Movie:

    Written by Nancy Meyers, who would later go on to a career as a successful Director, 1987's Baby Boom tells the tale of a new trend in the bustling world of New York City big business; the powerhouse career female. J.C. Wiatt (Diane Keaton) has made a name for herself at her firm, referred to as the "Tiger Lady" because of her uncompromising work ethic and determination to run with the big boys. She's found the ideal partner in Steve (Harold Ramis), a similarly driven individual who has no taste for settling down, only the need to work harder and longer. Thanks to her drive and lack of a personal life, J.C. ends up on the radar of firm top dog Fritz Curtis (Sam Wanamaker), who has an eye on making J.C. a full Partner if she can reel in the account of big fish Food Chain.

    Things are going swimmingly for J.C., and a late-night call from overseas indicates more good fortune on the way; an inheritance from her recently deceased stranger of a cousin. Arriving at JFK Airport the next morning to meet the Executor of the will, J.C. is shocked when she is handed her inheritance; her dead relative's infant daughter Elizabeth. Protesting to no avail, J.C. fumble-carries Elizabeth to her 8 a.m. meeting with the partners, who are quite obviously dismayed by this new development. A business lunch with her new potential client (Pat Hingle) doesn't go much better, after J.C.'s attempt to coat-check the child results in Elizabeth distracting her by crying constantly throughout the meeting. At home, Steve reacts to the addition of a child by packing his bags and splitting.

    Deciding that adoption is the best course of action for all concerned, J.C. finds herself overcome with guilt when her motherly instincts kick in, and her professional world starts to collapse. Business meetings are interrupted by calls from the babysitter, her ability to be punctual and work a 15-hour day falls by the wayside, and the Partners react accordingly by promoting her underling, Kenneth (James Spader) to the Food Chain account and giving her some mundane work in the dog food industry. Frustrated and fed up, J.C. flees the city to a huge estate in Vermont, and quickly realizes that the house she has purchased is a money pit. But when all seems lost, she meets charming veterinarian Jeff Cooper (Sam Shepard), and is inspired by Elizabeth to create a specialized business that will signal her triumphant return to Wall Street.

    To be fair, I am not the target market for an 80's romantic comedy that deals with the empowerment of women in the workplace, though I'm all for the idea. And I'm sure that a number of viewers were inspired by Keaton's ability to overcome the challenges of choosing between a time-consuming career and motherhood. And I certainly realize that films do not always deal in the realm of reality, and as Julie Kirgo points out in both her commentary and excellent booklet essay, Baby Boom dwells somewhere in fable country as opposed to flat-out realism. All of that aside, the problem with Baby Boom is....well, it's just not a very good film.

    Keaton, normally adored by this viewer for her supreme acting chops from serious drama (The Godfather) to quirky comedy (Annie Hall) is as predictable as it gets in Baby Boom, from frustrated exaggerated "Ooooohhhhh"s and smug, over-confident overacting, a caricature of herself. That is quite sad to see, a talented actor reduced to predictability, but that's what can be expected within the confines of the writing, which are just as dull and predictable as can be expected. This is not a film that travels into the dark recesses of anyone's minds, or reveals threats or dangers that exist in the real world. Situations arise as they should; again, within the confines of an entirely banal script; and characters react accordingly. I suppose that there's solace to be found in James Spader's excellent corporate weasel, or even Harold Ramis', er, Ramis-ness, but this is largely 110 minutes of things you see coming from the start. The score doesn't help dissuade that opinion; I feel terrible dismissing the efforts of the phenomenal Bill Conti, despite fitting the film perfectly, it's bubbly and marshmallowy, and the inspirational song that kicks in to emphasize J.C.'s triumph is a typical 80's filmsong moment.

    Oddly enough, the film's one completely unpredictable moment, when the film switches gears halfway through the running time and turns into a big-city-girl-in-a-small-town Money Pit kinda ripoff, is what sends it off the rails completely. A sudden change of scenery, a sudden change of Keaton's character...granted, she displays some maternal instincts prior, but this can be counted as a 180...leave the viewer wondering what the hell is going on, and after almost an hour of commitment to J.C. Mach 1, not certain that they want to continue down this path. Sticking through it for another painful hour, we're rewarded with a payoff that's as vapid as the concept, an ending open to interpretation as to the character's methods, but largely indicative of a compromise.


    Twilight Time brings Baby Boom to Blu-ray with an AVC-encoded 1.85:1 transfer that looks sharp, if not a little dated. Colours are very strong here, representing New York City and later the countryside nicely, and detail is good when that soft focus lens/filter shows up, which does happen from time to time. Dirt, debris, and damage are not obvious.

    Audio is handled courtesy of a DTS-HD MA 2.0 track that works perfectly well for the largely dialogue-driven film, and optional English Subtitles for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing are available. The spoken word is balanced nicely with the effects and score, and there are no hisses, crackles, or pops to speak of.

    A commentary with Julie Kirgo and Nick Redman is included here, and although the two don't touch too terribly much on the actual film (and were obviously more into it than I was), it's an enthusiastic chat that covers a wide range of topics, from the themes explored in the film and other films that shared similar views, to the marriage of Director Charles Shyer and his former wife and co-writer Nancy Meyers. There's even a comparison of sets to Eraserhead(?!) in here, and no matter what you think of the film, it's a great commentary.

    Twilight Time staples such as an Isolated Music and Effects Track, the Twilight Time Interactive Catalogue, Booklet Essay by Julie Kirgo, and a Trailer for the film are also included.

    The Final Word:

    While I can certainly recommend the transfer and commentary found on Twilight Time's release of Baby Boom, I can't bring myself to extend that recommendation to the film itself. However, fans will likely enjoy this presentation.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 10 Comments
    1. C.D. Workman's Avatar
      C.D. Workman -
      I can't tell you how much I hate this movie, so I'm glad you snatched this one up!
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      Hahaha, I was not a fan, either.
    1. Scott's Avatar
      Scott -
      I can't believe I watched this crap when I was a kid. Nobody ever questioned what I watched, be it violent or sexual. But the world village really let me down by not slapping this one out of my hand.
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      It really is the worst kind of film...an utter waste of time with no redeeming qualities.
    1. Alison Jane's Avatar
      Alison Jane -
      Poor Mark.
    1. Ian Jane's Avatar
      Ian Jane -
      To be fair, Mark CHOSE to review this, it was not forced on him.
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      True, I do choose the discs.
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      I gravitate toward Twilight Time titles, they do release some great stuff...,I thought there was something to this that I had forgotten about.
    1. C.D. Workman's Avatar
      C.D. Workman -
      Quote Originally Posted by Ian Jane View Post
      To be fair, Mark CHOSE to review this, it was not forced on him.
      THIS comment for the win of the day!!!!
    1. C.D. Workman's Avatar
      C.D. Workman -
      I'm glad Mark CHOSE it, because if it had been offered to me - I would have taken it. I don't even know why. I just know I would have!!!! So, thank you, Mark, for being my shield!!!!