Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 10, 2021)
In 1988’s She’s Having a Baby, we witness the growing pains of director John Hughes. He made his name with teen-oriented fare like Pretty in Pink and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off but apparently tired of his status as king of the kiddies.
As such, Hughes pushed harder for more adult-oriented fare, a move that started with 1987’s Planes, Trains and Automobiles.
That film worked due to the considerable talents of stars John Candy and Steve Martin. While it was Hughes’ first movie to concentrate on grown-up characters, it didn’t really concentrate on themes that were unique to adults. After all, 1998’s I’ll Be Home For Christmas used a fairly similar plot but starred late-teen Jonathan Taylor Thomas.
As such, She’s Having a Baby marked Hughes’ first truly “adult” storyline. Here we find newly-weds Jefferson “Jake” Briggs (Kevin Bacon) and Kristy (Elizabeth McGovern). The film starts with Jake’s pre-wedding jitters, and he doesn’t seem to feel comfortable in the relationship until the movie’s end.
Frankly, I can’t blame him, since it appears that he and Kristy have absolutely no personal connection. The chemistry between Bacon and McGovern seems nil, and I could never discern what they see in each other.
They make a fairly miserable couple who come together solidly at the end of the movie just because that’s the way these kinds of stories work. There’s no logic involved but it happens because of cinematic conventions.
It doesn’t help that both characters are terribly drawn and seem very incomplete. Bacon gets the better end of the bargain, as the movie focuses almost exclusively on Jake and Kristy qualifies as no more than a supporting character.
We watch Jake as he goes through all of his growing pains: he has to get a real job, buy a house in the suburbs and contend with in-laws who demand grandchildren. Oh my - what a nightmare!
To say that I feel little angst over Jake’s “plight” is an understatement. He essentially just seems like an immature whiner most of the time.
Granted, I’d probably be pretty upset, too, if I had to deal with a selfish harpy like Kristy. McGovern was always a fairly likable actress, but she displays virtually no warmth here.
Kristy appears to be completely obsessed with her own concerns and almost never seems to give a hoot about Jake. McGovern probably does the best she can with the material, but Hughes’ script paints her into such a small corner that there’s no way she can make the role more appealing.
For God’s sake, the wench decides to halt her birth control but doesn’t consult her husband! I already disliked Kristy, but cavalier gestures like that made me absolutely loathe her.
Apparently the only reason we’re supposed to accept Jake and Kristy as a couple is because a) they’re both reasonably attractive, and b) the script expects us to do so. However, much of the story makes little sense.
Soon after their marriage, Kristy cooks for Jake, an attempt that fails because she clearly has no clue what food he enjoys. Though recently married, the movie tells us that these two have been together for a good number of years. In all that time, she never learned what he likes to eat?
That’s asinine, but it’s typical of She’s Having a Baby, an inane movie that sacrifices all attempts at logic whenever it wants to deliver a gag. The film wants to be a sincere and true-to-life tale of young adults as they move through the stages of adulthood, but not a single moment connects to reality. Despite a likable cast, the movie feeks tolerable at best and execrable at worst.