Babies Review
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In this age of Facebook and YouTube, anyone who knows anyone with kids could easily spend hours every week just watching video footage of other people’s babies doing silly things. They sing, they dance, they say cute things, or they simply make a mess. It’s pretty entertaining stuff—and it’s free, too. But, I suppose, if that’s still not good enough, you can always head to your neighborhood movie theater to watch even more baby footage in Babies.

Babies is a documentary following four infants from different cultural backgrounds during their first year—from birth through their first triumphant steps—showing that, wherever they live, whatever their lifestyle, babies are still just…babies.

In Namibia, there’s Ponijao, a little boy who lives in a hut and spends his days playing with the other children in the village while their mothers look on.

  
 
In Tokyo, there’s Mari, a little girl who lives with her parents in an apartment overlooking the lights of the bustling metropolis.

In Mongolia, there’s Bayar, an inquisitive little guy who’s surrounded by goats who drink his bath water and chickens who wander around on his bed.

And finally, in San Francisco, there’s Hattie, a blonde-haired, blue-eyed little girl whose parents take her to all kinds of baby groups.

Director Thomas Balmes keeps Babies super-simple—free from narration or dialogue. Sure, there are conversations going on in the background, but they’re kept in the background, often even drowned out by the film’s score. There aren’t any subtitles, either—so when non-English-speaking parents are talking in the background, you’ll have no idea what they’re talking about (though you can sometimes understand their tone of voice when they’re giving someone a good scolding). This way, it keeps the focus on the four babies—on their laughing, their crying, and all of their other little baby sounds. But it ends up feeling an awful lot like 80 minutes of professionally-filmed home videos.

Unfortunately, while the babies are cute, they aren’t especially interesting. They eat. They sleep. They fight with their siblings. Every once in a while, the cameras catch an amusing moment—like Bayar’s older brother dragging their cat across the floor, or Mari throwing a tantrum for no apparent reason, or Hattie getting bored and walking out of her hippy-baby chanting circle. For the most part, though, the footage is the kind of tedious stuff that even the most doting parents would fast-forward through.

Of course, if you really love babies—if you love watching them go about even the most mundane of baby routines—then you’ll enjoy Babies. Personally, though, I’d rather go back and watch the video of my friends’ toddler, Garrett, singing along with the Ting Tings instead—and maybe the one of their daughter, Amy, doing her best fire truck impersonation, too. They’re hilarious. Babies, on the other hand, is only mildly interesting.

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