Throwback Thirty – She’s Having A Baby (1988)

poster5_star_rating_system_3_stars I’ve got one more day of work before I head off on my holiday and I can’t wait. I’ve almost go ahead with next week’s posts. I just need to quickly write up next week’s TBT post tomorrow before I start packing. God, I hate packing. It’s days like this that make me wish I was still a kid. Remember how great it was when you went away and your mother packed all of your clothes for you? All you had to do was pack books and stuff. That was the bit I always looked forward to the most, obviously. Picking which books you take away is serious business. You want to take enough incase you get through them all but you can’t use up all of your space by taking too many. It’s such a difficult decision. And one that deserves more time than I’m going to be able to give it. Thanks to my bloody packing nightmare. God, being an adult is the worst… cut to shameless link to today’s TBT film. A film about a man who has a hard time dealing with growing up. Throughout his films John Hughes has explored the life of Chicago teenagers and She’s Having a Baby feels like the logical next step. We’ve seen them work their way through high school and now we get a picture of them trying to settle down. Starring Kevin Bacon. The darling of the 80s… as I’ve just dubbed him.

It’s no great spoiler to reveal that She’s Having A Baby will end with a young couple becoming parents. It starts with Jefferson (Kevin Bacon) and Kristy (Elizabeth McGovern) on their wedding day. Jefferson, or Jake, has his doubts but has loved Kristy since they first met as teenagers. Their parents have mixed feelings about the union but the pair make it down the aisle. The film then follows their story until the moment their first child is born. It is narrated by Jake and we see him deal with his misgivings about settling down to married life. He loves Kristy but has dreams beyond his life in Suburbia. He finds himself dragged along by his wife as he always wonders what he’s missing out on. As he wonders why he was forced to give up his dream of being an author to work in advertising and tries to stop himself thinking about that beautiful woman he’s always bumping into.

The basic story isn’t exactly a new thing: who can keep count of the amount of times we’ve heard the story of a man too afraid of growing up to embrace his role in his new family? It’s all standard fare. Jake is jealous of his friend, Davis’, carefree lifestyle, fancy car, and model girlfriend. He fights with his wife and is too scared to have a baby. It’s all stuff that romantic-comedies having been dealing with for years but John Hughes adds something to it by showing us what is going on in Jake’s head. We see his fantasies and nightmares acted out for us. For example, the scene where he despairs about his neighbours by imagining them perform an intricate dance manoeuvre with their lawnmowers. It’s an interesting conceit but doesn’t always work. There are moments when Jake’s fantasies break into real life so much that you don’t really know what is actually happening anymore.

Sometimes She’s Having a Baby does run away from itself. The fantasies can feel gimmicky and they just draw out the inevitable. We all know that eventually Jake will accept his life and these flights of fancy do slow down the progress of the story a bit. Or at least don’t have as much of a relevance as they’d like to. They never feel part of the narrative. Cute and fun in their own way but not part of the whole. But, I guess, without them She’s Having a Baby would be just another bland romantic-comedy. Yes, it offers charming performances from its two leads and Alec Baldwin does a good enough job as their school friend. The story itself is sweet and not very offensive. There are some genuinely wonderful moment. However, none of these things are enough to make up for the major inadequacies.

What is so disappointing is that the final moments of the film show genuine heartfelt brilliance. We see a really deep and moving performance from Kevin Bacon and some real emotional resonance. It’s a shame that we had to wade through a lot of shit in order to get to the good stuff. And it’s disappointing to see how great this film could have been. Still, She’s Having a Baby is a John Hughes film, which automatically makes charming enough. It’s not one of his best but it’s nowhere near being his worst. I would watch this again but not with the frequency of something like Pretty in Pink or The Breakfast Club. Or Uncle Buck. I freaking love Uncle Buck. Uncle Buck.

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