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Saturday, 12 August 2017

Retro Review: Baby's Day Out (1994)

Baby's Day Out
Cast: Joe Mantegna, Brian Haley, Joe Pantoliano, Lara Flynn Boyle, Cynthia Nixon, Matthew Glave
Genre: Family Comedy Adventure
U.S Box Office Gross: over $16 million 

Plot: After 3 bumbling hoodlums kidnap a toddler from a wealthy family, they have a zany time trying to hold onto the curious infant

'Infant Home Alone In This Goofy Low-Brow Farce'

I am one of those movie fans who loves a good comedy, but I am also partial to the odd silly, juvenile, low-brow dimwit humour from time to time (Leslie Nielsen, Jim Carrey and Robin Williams's offerings especially), just as long as it makes me laugh and the characters are likable and empathetic. It's amusing to me to see characters get hit, get injured, say funny stuff and all in good taste as well. Baby's Day Out is supposedly one of those comedies that fit the bill and Baby Bink is the movie's Kevin McCallister of Home Alone. But for the blond hair, the only differences are that he is cuter, small, doesn't say much. If anything, Baby Bink is the Jerry mouse of this film, as in Jerry from Tom and Jerry.

Nine-month-old Bink (played by twin brothers Adam and Jacob Worton) is a tot belonging to a wealthy family, who is kidnapped by a trio of kidnappers who demand $5 million dollars from the parents as a ransom in return for Bink. What the kidnappers do not know is that Bink is not as innocent as he appears to be and thus, after crawling out of an apartment window, left open by the kidnappers, he goes out of his way to make their lives a living hell for as long as possible.

The film also features another early appearance by Cynthia Nixon - pre-Sex in the City days, who after The Pelican Brief, followed it up as the babysitter/nanny for Baby Bink.

The film has been accused by many of lacking wit and originality; though honestly, these types of comedies do not all need to be witty to be funny. Yes, some of the scenes may incur fits of giggles or laugh out loud hysterics over such stupidity that makes others groan or wince, but if it makes the audience laugh, then the more the merrier. Being a comedy, this is sheer fantasy and of course, the idea of a baby outwitting criminals is not something that would ever happen in real life.

Since Home Alone, John Hughes had churned out hit after hit by relying on this formula of dumb adult adversaries being outwitted by the smart little kid. Baby's Day Out functions as a live-action Looney Tunes cartoon and if there is one problem with it, is that as it is a live-action film instead of being an animated movie, the level of plausibility is set so high, and yet we have to remember that this is a fictional comedy and that none of these things would take place for real. The action is slapstick orientated, with some of it being completely daft and because Bink is not yet beyond 1 years of age, we don't really know a lot more about him, character-wise. He looks adorable but is devoid of personality and if we're being honest, as much as he is the main character, truthfully, he isn't. He is oblivious of the things going on around his environment and through the situations and various locations he is in. And the scenes with the baby alone, minus the slapstick, was boring. I was bored.

In any farce comedy, there is or has to be at least one silly slapstick crotch scene, just to maintain the laughter factor. & in Baby's Day Out, it has one. The jokes and gags, but for the kick in the groin and setting one of the kidnappers private parts on fire with a lighter, merely elicit laugh out loud hysterics but they are rather tiresome. The further this film went on, the more bored I became and the less I smiled. For the children, but for the slapstick scenes there is not much else for them to enjoy, and for everyone else, the fact that this film's situations that occur are so unbelievable, that is also the whole point of the film and is what drives the story forward. Without them, you won't have much in the way of a movie. The gorilla that threw Joe Mantegna was obviously fake and it was a man in costume and again, a real gorilla wouldn't have picked him up and threw him and he landed with his back to the bars. Mantegna is the poor man's Joe Pesci in this movie & acts and sounds exactly like his character from The Simpsons.

The story isn't that great to behold and the novelty factor of the bad guys chasing after the toddler eventually wears thin, quickly. The chase no longer becomes fun, but rather a chore. The characters are also not very sympathetic, and with the parents themselves, they are irresponsible for not taking care of their child properly. Home Alone worked because the characters were better written, the main character was a 10-year-old, who as annoying as he was, had a mind of his own but unlike Bink, Kevin was clever enough to make those traps and the performances lend themselves to the script. In addition, the slapstick was more inventive and the pacing of the film was better. Here, whenever a slapstick scene occurred, but for the lighter burning one of the crooks crotch, I was like 'meh'.

Bink may be a cutie, but he was annoying and the further the film went on, the more annoyed I got with him and the more contrived Baby's Day Out all became.

Final Verdict:

It's silly and harmless that's for sure, but it's not a film I'd watch again. For kids, they'd enjoy it more but for adults, besides the slapstick, there is not much else to keep the likes of us entertained.

It would have worked better in animated form and in comparison to other slapstick comedies I've sat through, it just doesn't provide anything else other than puerile slapstick. Which I don't mind, but it is just not enough for me to love a comedy film; that, as well as the characters here, are not very appealing or engaging enough.

Home Alone with a baby in place of Kevin - only with half the fun & even more bumbling crooks. 

This was a mere cash grab from the late John Hughes and it is thus, very weak also.


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