Year Released: 2001
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 21 minutes
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When a lower middle-class family of four piles into their battered silver station wagon to go on vacation, no one anticipates the truly bizarre adventure upon which they’re about to embark. For when they pull into an anonymous rest stop on the way, the two daughters find a surprise in the women’s bathroom; a squirming newly born baby boy.
They huddle with their parents to decide what to do, finally deciding to call the police. When their dad approaches the pay phone, he spots the newborn’s mother in a red formal dress, blood still visible on her inner thighs, arguing with her boyfriend on the pay phone about attending a high school dance.
A chase ensues between the frightened girl and the outraged, nearly rabid family; a chase that results in a final confrontation between the family and the reluctant parents of the roadside bundle of joy.
Presumably based on a similar incident which happened a couple of years ago, director Bridget Bedard’s “Baby” tries to turn this shocking story into a dark comedy. To some extent she succeeds…although I’m not sure any sort of comedy is the proper way to handle something as repugnant as abandoning an infant to die in a rest stop.
Such qualms aside, however, “Baby” works fairly well. The father’s kinda dorky, mom’s a little abrasive, and both daughters are brats…but then that’s true of a lot of families. Less convincing is the fact that a woman who’s just given birth would be capable of leading a pack of pursuers on a wild chase through a midwestern corn field. Some artistic license is in order, one supposes, but still…
In any event, “Baby” works about as well as a screwball comedy about attempted infanticide can work. One can’t help feeling, however, that Bedard’s film is letting the new mom off the hook, trivializing this horrific incident in the process.
Posted on February 13, 2001 in Reviews by Merle Bertrand
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