Three Men and a Baby

“He’s in Turkey. Exactly where I’d be if my baby was in New York.”

Based on the 1985 Oscar nominated French film Trois Hommes et un Couffin (a.k.a. Three Men and a Cradle), Leonard Nimoy directs this enjoyable comedy that was one of the most successful movies of the 1980s (along with the nostalgic elements).  Why?

  1. There’s not many people out there who can’t relate to taking care of a baby
  2. There’s not many people out there who can’t relate to being a bachelor
  3. The original French film gave the cast and crew plenty of funny material to build on.

Three bachelors – an architect named Peter (Tom Selleck), comic artist Michael (Steve Guttenburg), and actor Jack (Ted Dansen) – live together in a New York apartment and find out how much their lives change (mostly for the better) when a baby named Mary, played by twins Lisa and Michelle Blair, is left in their care. “Oh, this is disgusting. It’s all over and it’s… It’s sticky and… We’re going to need some kind of cleaning fluid to get this off,” says Michael as he tries to change Mary’s diaper with Peter.

Selleck, Guttenburg and Dansen all have great chemistry and get to stretch their acting abilities/versatility here. All the men’s ineptness is predictably balanced by the experienced and insightful female characters as the guys turn to them for help and guidance, which creates an important touchstone element on gender roles.

Margaret Colin (Independence Day, Devil’s Own) heads the female cast as Peter’s love interest while Nancy Travis (So I Married An Axe Murderer, TV’s Last Man Standing) has a sweet performance as the baby’s mother. Broadway veteran/Oscar winner Celeste Holm (All About Eve, Gentleman’s Agreement) makes the most of her sole sequence as Jack’s mother and Broadway veteran Cynthia Harris (TV’s L.A. Law, Edward & Mrs. Simpson,  Mad About You) plays nanny Mrs. Hathaway.

The men’s culture clash with the parenting/baby world provides plenty of memorable comedic and dramatic moments and musical choices like “Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight” by The Spaniels and various really enhance the experience.

The drug-smuggling sub-plot can wears viewers down and should have been reimagined from the source French film. The only positive is Philip Bosco’s role as Detective Sargeant Melkowitz .

The scene where Selleck reads Sport Illustrated as a bedtime story is one of the funniest, most charming moments.  “It doesn’t matter what I read, it’s the tone you use. She doesn’t understand the words anyway, now where were we?” Peter answers Michael after he asks what he’s reading to Mary. Good fun with a simple plot and easily grasped concept. Recommended with a few reservations (**1/2 out of four stars). Rated PG for language, some violence, drug content and references, which lean toward PG-13 territory.

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