Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Baby's Day Out

Slap That Baby, Make Him Free!

What's it about?

Tonight's nostalgic pic is "Baby's Day Out" (Twentieth Century Fox, 1994).

Don't Bink or you'll miss it.

Bennington Cotwell II (played alternatively by twins Adam and Jacob Warton), affectionately referred to as "Baby Bink" by his nanny, Gilbertine (Cynthia Nixon), is obsessed with a book called "Baby's Day Out," which depicts the adventures of "Baby Boo" as his nanny takes him on a trip through the city.
And we get to sit along with them. Seriously. This is considered entertainment.

Baby Bink's rich society-obsessed obviously abusively negligent parents, Laraine (Lara Flynn Boyle) and Bennington (Matthew Glave) have arranged for the child to have his picture professionally taken so that he can be featured in the newspaper (I swear that I'm not making this up).
"Honey, have we thought about sending Bink to boarding school yet?"

On the day of the appointment, the photographers are kidnapped and replaced by the criminal trio of Veeko, Norby, and Eddie (Brian Haley, Joe Pantoliano, and Joe Mantegna respectively).
They're really the only characters in the film.

The crooks kidnap Bink in short order and leave a ransom note for the parents, who quickly call the FBI.
Cypher no swiping!

The top G-man for the crisis, Dale Grissom (former Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson -- again, I swear I'm not making this up) quickly sizes up the situation.
"My plan is to cut taxes and raise military spending somehow!"

Meanwhile, the criminals are attempting to get Bink to sleep while they await the ransom drop, but the baby sees pigeons outside of the top floor window, reminding him of the birds in his book. He quickly climbs out onto the roof, and begins to follow things that remind him of illustrations in the storybook, slowly crossing Chicago as the crooks try to reacquire him.
In real life they would have shot this gorilla even though he didn't do anything. That's not meant to be funny.

The injuries and the "laughs" begin to pile up in slapstick fashion as the criminals chase the wily infant.

Some background

This movie was directed by Patrick Read Johnson, who was a known and popular Hollywood writer (and the director of a few B movies). The direction is perfectly competent, or at the very least technically competent. The real surprise here is that this film was both written and produced by John Hughes. Yes, THAT John Hughes.

I guarantee that Hughes crapped this script out in a weekend to pay for a boat or something.

The bad

Now, when I tell you that this film was a box office failure, bringing in a worldwide gross of just over $16,000,000 against its budget of $48,000,000, you might think that it's because it released around the same time as the James Cameron/Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle "True Lies" or Disney's "The Lion King," and you'd be partially right; however, it's currently sitting with around 19% on Rottentomatoes.com, and there's a reason.

Pictured: The returns, looking up at the cost.


I personally hate this movie. This is the THIRD time I've tried to watch this, and the problem is that every time I end up falling asleep. It's not that the Three Stooges-esque gags aren't visually funny, but they don't happen nearly as often as they should and everything in the film seems derivative of old Looney Tunes or Tom & Jerry cartoons…

The crooks spend more time talking about getting injured than actually getting injured.

Which was already parodied quite humorously and succinctly in Roger Rabbit's "Baby Herman" cartoons around the same time. The thing these examples have in common and that "Baby's Day Out" fails to capture is that they're all less than 5 minutes long.
I swear I've seen this somewhere before in a 1940s cartoon.

Couple that with the most unlikable-but-not-actually-evil parental figures ever put on film, and you have a bad movie that just drags itself out while being impenetrably unrelatable. John Hughes has this irritating habit of making all of his characters rich and ALWAYS uncritically so, but this was easily one of his most out-of-touch productions in a catalog that brought us the likes of "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," "16 Candles," and "Home Alone" (all rich people all the time).

Safe for kids, not for your patience

This movie is rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) for cartoon violence (especially several nut shots to Joe Mantegna), but there's no swearing or tobacco use… also, apparently Chicago is "straight" as an arrow and lily white, as there are no minorities to be found anywhere in the film -- not downtown, not even at construction sites. It's safe enough for kids, provided they can stay awake through it, and that might be a tall order.

Fun for babies, not for Batman!

Where can you find it?

"Baby's Day Out" is currently streaming on Disney+, but can also be rented or purchased on Amazon Prime Video.

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