Baby Boom has always been a film that I enjoy, but it had been quite a long time since I watched it. When I was younger, it was entertaining to watch Diane Keaton, as J.C. Wiatt, fumble her way through the learning curve of the recent addition to her life, baby Elizabeth, played by twins Kristina and Michelle Kennedy.
I always thought of it as a suitable double bill with Mr. Mom. Both films feature capable adults suddenly dealing with raising kids. Of course, the two films share little else in common, but the flow of the movies was similar.
Obviously, I had nothing to relate to in the film watching it almost 20 years ago. Now, with two kids myself, and the fact that I’m a stay at home dad, I found that there was an inspiring message to the movie.
J.C. Wiatt (Keaton) is a successful business woman, married to her job. She’s about to get a promotion at work, but her boss is concerned that she may want to start a family. Apparently that’s the problem with women, always wanting children. She assures him that she doesn’t want kids, and he reminds her that “You can’t have it all.” Within a matter of days, she receives a phone call that a distant relative has died and left her something. When she goes to pick up her inheritance, she finds out that it’s a baby. Adoption is her first option, but J.C. can’t leave baby Elizabeth behind, so she attempts to blend her career and a family. When she realizes that she’s being pushed out of her job, she starts up a new life, and a new business, in an attempt to do exactly what her boss said she couldn’t, have it all.
Looking beyond the obvious men versus women in the workplace aspect, and what are still incredibly sexist attitudes, there is an incredibly inspiring message to be found here. It all depends on how you view the film. Forget gender entirely. Yes, J.C. Wiatt is a giant middle finger to the idea that a woman can’t be successful and have a family, and to every other gender based slur, but I’m not a woman. I know about inequality, but very rarely experience it. What I can truly understand is the idea that you can’t have it all. I think this applies even more now. A family can barely survive on one income, so who is left to raise children at the end of the day? Is it even possible to have a successful career and an engaging and productive family life? It can be, and that’s exactly what the character of J.C. Wiatt shows us.
Success isn’t really about money. At least not for everybody. J.C. forms a strong bond with her daughter while still running a baby food business. At the end of the film, her former company comes to her, interested in purchasing her business, but she says no. She’s got it all, exactly what she’s been told she couldn’t have. She could have walked away with millions. Instead, she realizes that she can run her business while still raising her child. It may not lead to riches financially, but the perfect balance of work and family is priceless. This is something I can relate to. Each day can be a struggle to make ends meet while trying to make sure that the kids are entertained and loved. It’s not a fat bank account that beckons to me, but a job that allows for the time to spend with family and put a few dollars into my wallet.
Diane Keaton does an excellent job in her role. For anybody who has children, watching the scenes where we see her bonding with baby Elizabeth will bring back memories. It doesn’t take much for your children to melt your heart, but it’s a small amount of time when they fit in your arms. Watching J.C. hold Elizabeth was enough to make my eyes misty, even if it was accompanied by the most annoying music in the world. We get it, it’s a sappy moment, no need for the overly dramatic music. While they seem to handle the idea of a woman overcoming the sexist ideas of a male dominated business world so well, the relationship that blossoms later in the film doesn’t go as well.
Sam Shepard shows up as Dr. Jeff Cooper. He’s the veterinarian in the small town that J.C. moves to, and he is strangely aggressive in his pursuit of her. I’m not sure what kind of man J.C. was looking for, but Dr. Cooper seems to spend a lot of time practically forcing himself on her. When he’s not grabbing her for an inappropriate kiss, he’s staring at her like he’s going to eat her, and not in that steamy, sexual way. I mean the go to prison for 25 years kind of way. Leave it to a romantic subplot to almost ruin a good thing. Thankfully, watching J.C. deal with idiotic bosses, becoming a new parent, and trying to rebuild her crumbling dream home, is hilarious. Maybe I should start making baby food?
Under the marquee – Will