- Movie Rating -

She’s Having a Baby (1988)

| February 5, 1988

I just knocked the teen comedy For Keeps for giving the serious issue of teen pregnancy a cutsy-poo framework, and now here comes John Hughes She’s Having a Baby.  I complained in the earlier film that the issue of pregnancy might have been handled by a better movie in Hughes’ hands and now that I’ve seen it, I recoil at the fact that I have to admit that I wish he’d made a better one.  Hughes, I think, is incapable of making a film without a beating heart at its center, and he does that here, but he has also made a film that is episodic, confused and has tone shifts that could cause earthquakes. 

Kevin Bacon and Elizabeth McGovern play recent college graduates who are getting married.  Bacon’s Jefferson has deep misgivings on his wedding day and fantasizes that the priest makes him promise to love cherish and provide all manner of gift and graft to his wife, including decorated checkbook covers.  He loves his new bride Kristy but he has a feeling of caging up all of his youthful ambitions, but it’s too late for all of that and soon they are living in a small apartment and he takes a low-level position at an advertising agency . . . in Chicago, of course.  This is a John Hughes movie, let’s not forget that.

As time goes on, the couple moves to the next stage of their relationship.  In the midst of becoming part of the (admittedly white) suburban frontier where status is measured by the power of your lawnmower, the relatives on both sides begin, with urgency, to suggest that it might be time to have a baby.  Of course, Kristy is all ready to go, but again, Jeff has misgivings.  The two decide to begin the process but he’s reluctant and sees the process as work.  Typical of this movie, their breeding is accompanied by “Working on a Chain Gang.”

The movie intercuts the reality of the two building a life together with the fantasies in Jeff’s head.  When she tells him that she stopped taking The Pill, his brain goes to the image of a train wreck.  When Jeff is hounded by his neighbor over what kind of lawn mower he owns, it is accompanied by a long musical number in which the neighbors do a ballet with their machines.

That kind of silliness runs hot and cold.  At times it works, but much of the time it just interrupts the drama of Jeff and Kristy’s relationship.  And there is never a consistent tone here.  There are all kinds of misfired subplots (one involving Alec Baldwin) that distract from the movie’s main point.  And the in-laws are such fractured, angry stereotypes that we wonder why the couple doesn’t just move out of town.

Yet, even with that, the movie’s climactic sequence is some of the best stuff that John Hughes has ever done.  When Kristy goes into labor there is a very emotional scene in which Jeff waits and worries.  It’s a very tender scene, one that put a tear in my eye.  I liked it so much that I wish that the rest of the move had had the same truth and tenderness.  It’s too bad.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1988) View IMDB Filed in: Comedy