Baby Boom (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Charles Shyer|
|Music by||Bill Conti|
|Cinematography||William A. Fraker|
|Edited by||Lynzee Klingman|
|Distributed by||United Artists|
|Box office||$26 million|
Baby Boom is a 1987 romantic comedy film directed by Charles Shyer, written by Nancy Meyers and Shyer, and produced by Meyers and Bruce A. Block for United Artists. It stars Diane Keaton as a yuppie who discovers that a long-lost cousin has died, leaving her a six-month-old baby girl as inheritance.
The film received generally favorable reviews and was a modest box-office success during its original run, eventually grossing $26 million. The film launched a subsequent television show, running from 1988 to 1989, and was nominated for two Golden Globe Awards.
J. C. Wiatt (Diane Keaton) is a driven Manhattan career woman (nicknamed the "Tiger Lady") typical of the 1980s whose fast-paced life leaves her with no time for romance or relaxation (or as the narrator in the beginning puts it she works "5 to 9"), though she derives pleasure from her frantic schedule and demanding job. She works as a management consultant and lives with an investment banker, Steven Buchner (Harold Ramis), whose job and life are likewise hectic. Her life is thrown into turmoil when she inherits a toddler, Elizabeth (twins Kristina and Michelle Kennedy), from a deceased cousin whom she had not seen in over 30 years.
J.C. tries to give Elizabeth up for adoption but finds that she has grown too attached to the child, forcing a reevaluation of her priorities. When Steven learns of this, he is not thrilled. J.C. explains to Steven that a lot of working people raise kids and she believes she can, too. Steven is aware of that but tells J.C. that he just can't raise the baby with her as raising children just doesn't fit into his hectic life. Steven packs his belongings and moves out. J.C. is left to raise the child on her own, though she hires a nanny to watch Elizabeth while she's at work.
Her boss, Fritz Curtis (Sam Wanamaker) tells her that Hughes Larrabee (Pat Hingle), the head of "The Food Chain," a major organization that owns and operates many brands of foods, is looking for someone to manage The Food Chain account. Fritz tells J.C. that landing this account could make her a partner. J.C. manages to land the account with her tough business attitude and is put in charge of it. Fritz also decides that Ken Arrenberg (James Spader), J.C.'s young apprentice whom she also recruited 2 years ago, is ready for the big time and will be on her team with the Food Chain account.
Caring for the child soon occupies much of her time and her career begins to suffer, especially when she starts bringing Elizabeth to classes that are intended to help boost babies' intelligence. As a result, Ken starts taking up the slack on the Food Chain account without J.C.'s consent, though it pleases Fritz and Larrabee. This starts to get on J.C.'s nerves, especially when Ken starts making decisions without her. J.C. tells Fritz that she wants Ken off the Food Chain account but instead to her surprise, Fritz tells her that he's decided that for the good of the account and the company, he's going to take her off the Food Chain account and have Ken take over as the one in charge of it. J.C. is offended as she got them the account in the first place. Fritz, knowing how unstable J.C. has become, tells her that he can't afford to take risks with the Food Chain account. He tells J.C. that he wants her to do low profile accounts from now on as he feels they would be better suited for her now that she is raising a child. J.C. has too much pride to take such a big step down and quits her job instead.
She moves into a house in the country in Vermont. Purchasing the home without first having seen it in person or having it inspected she finds it is riddled with problems (failing plumbing and heating, lack of water, bad roof). Suffering a nervous breakdown and on the brink of financial collapse, she sees an opportunity to sell baby food applesauce she had concocted for Elizabeth from fresh ingredients. Amid the clamor for her new products she develops a relationship with local veterinarian Jeff Cooper (Sam Shepard). At first annoyed by him, she is opposed to Jeff's overtures and is focused now on returning to New York as fast as possible. Finding a buyer for the house proves almost impossible as it was for sale for 5 years and she was the only interested buyer.
After a rough start she succeeds in selling "Country Baby", her gourmet baby food, and soon business is booming. Orders for it start pouring in from all over America. J.C. and Jeff start to grow closer, even Elizabeth grows fond of him. Finally, her old boss Fritz and his client, Larrabee take notice. The Food Chain offers to buy her company for millions, take her product nationwide, and give her back her career and high-prestige life. On the brink of accepting, she decides that she can grow her enterprise on her own without having to sacrifice her personal life. She returns to Vermont, to her new lover and adopted daughter.
- Diane Keaton as J.C. Wiatt
- Sam Shepard as Dr. Jeff Cooper
- Harold Ramis as Steven Buchner
- Sam Wanamaker as Fritz Curtis
- James Spader as Ken Arrenberg
- Pat Hingle as Hughes Larrabee
- Britt Leach as Verne Boone
- Annie Golden as a Nanny
- Linda Ellerbee as Narrator
- Kim Sebastian as Robin
- Mary Gross as Charlotte Elkman
- Kristina & Michelle Kennedy as Baby Elizabeth
Baby Boom was favorably received by audiences and critics alike. The Rotten Tomatoes criticism aggregation website gives it an approval rating of 79% based on 19 reviews, with an average rating of 6.3/10.
Diane Keaton's performance was singled out by Pauline Kael from The New Yorker, who described it as "a glorious comedy performance that rides over many of the inanities in this picture (...) Keaton is smashing: the Tiger Lady's having all this drive is played for farce and Keaton keeps you alert to every shade of pride and panic the character feels. She's an ultra-feminine executive, a wide-eyed charmer, with a breathless ditziness that may remind you of Jean Arthur in THE MORE THE MERRIER."
Baby Boom's writers combat a one-dimensional review in which American journalist, writer, and university professor Caryn James expresses her distaste in J.C. "abandon[ing] a high-powered Manhattan career for the joys of life in Vermont with a baby and Sam Shepard." The article, published on August 13, 1989 by the New York Times, calls forth the intersectionality of a working mother and explains how J.C.'s search for equality prompted her to leave her elite New York position. According to its writers, Baby Boom depicts "the increasing prejudice women face today" stereotyped into two categories - the sweet caregiver or the self-reliant businesswoman - and aims to destroy that outdated mindset.
- Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical - Diane Keaton (Nominated)
- Golden Globe Best Motion Picture Comedy or Musical (Nominated)
- National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress - Diane Keaton (Nominated)
- American Comedy Awards Funniest Actress in a Motion Picture - Diane Keaton (Nominated)
The film debuted strongly on VHS.
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- Baby Boom at Rotten Tomatoes
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- James, Caryn (August 13, 1989). "FEMINIST HEROINES; Women As Victims". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 13, 2017.
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- John Voland (October 20, 1987). "Weekend Box Office". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-07-14.
- Dennis Hunt (May 26, 1988). "Video Charts : Babies Booming, 'East L.A.' Rising". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-07-04.