Directed by Thomas Balmes. 79 minutes. PG
Let’s start with the facts. Babies are cute. Seriously. They have chipmunk cheeks, wide eyes and giggle the sweetest little giggles ever. OK, so they poop and spit and cry too, but when they’re miles away and behind the lens of a camera there’s none of that to deter that fuzzy wuzzy feeling of overwhelming cuteness.
The film follows four babies from birth: Ponijao in Namibia, Mari in Japan, Bayar in Mongolia and Hattie in America. That’s really the gist of it. It’s kind of like a National Geographic flick where the furry little lion cubs are replaced by our own kind, as the film focuses on how babies interact with each other, relationships with parents and learning, of course, mixed in with some magnitude 10 aww-ing.
Clearly, it’s a very light film. It’s short. It’s simple. And with little dialogue, and even less understandable dialogue at that, it feels more like a flip through a baby’s first photo album rather than a documentary. It kind of defies what you’d expect from most docs, which is super-serious hard thinking. Instead Babies lets you laugh and zone into cuteness overload.
But if you’re looking for a little more substance, you can find it too. Babies is like a four-part case study reminding us that humans are animals too. Babies learn, adapt and form relationships. It’s like anthro class 101, without the exams and lectures. You take from it what you will, wondering why four babies learn to walk in four slightly differently ways or how they react affectionately to animals or why a toddler would push his baby brother in a stroller and leave him stranded in the middle of a field of cows. (Actually, Bayar seemed constantly deserted in the middle of nowhere. What a nice brother…)
Of course, some might not be able to get over the thought that the film is a little pointless. Plot is literally non-existent (but characters are more than interesting). To enjoy this film, you need to accept that there is no deep narrative to be found and commit yourself to being swept with cuteness to no limit. B-