Rated PG 79 min. 2010

Here’s what’s both fascinating and frustrating about Babies: You can see what it’s trying to be, as well as what it feels it has to be. The way people raise their children varies as much as any other human behavior, and it can be fascinating to explore how cultures define their values by what they do and don’t do with those children. But it’s also hard to escape that when a movie spends 80 minutes just watching babies be babies, you’re going to end up wallowing in some schmaltz. Director Thomas Balmes starts with a solid foundation, following four babies born in four different countries through the first year-plus of their lives. The result is often terrifically interesting as anthropology. But it’s hard not to recognize that for every scene that delivers a noteworthy idea, there are two that either repeat a similar point or exist primarily to tickle our isn’t-that-adorable reflex. As the learning-to-crawl montage unspools, it becomes clear that maybe Balmes doesn’t have 80 minutes worth of insight to offer and that he has no shame about filling the rest with stuff that would work just as well on the front of a Hallmark card.

Film Credits

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Director: Thomas Balmès

Producer: Alain Chabat, Amandine Billot and Christine Rouxel

Cast: Ponijao, Bayarjargal, Mari and Hattie

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