*½/**** Image C Sound A Extras B-
starring Kevin Bacon, Elizabeth McGovern, Alec Baldwin, James Ray
written and directed by John Hughes
by Bill Chambers I rented She's Having a Baby the moment it hit video out of brand loyalty to John Hughes, whose teen movies had had an epic and indoctrinating influence on my peers and me. And I was largely indifferent to it up until the closing-credits montage of celebrities tossing out names for the titular baby, at which point my lack of enthusiasm gave way to dismay.* At the time, I assumed the film's subject matter was too adult for 13-year-old me (and it was), but 18 years later I didn't like it any better, and after revisiting it with another 15 years' distance--which brings us to 2021--I've decided that when it comes to She's Having a Baby, "it's not me, it's you" suffices. Even though the travails of one Jefferson "Jake" Briggs remain as hypothetical to me as they were when I was a kid, movies, as Roger Ebert was fond of saying, are empathy machines; the cinema would never have flourished if films demanded a 1:1 relationship with the viewer's experiences. (Granted, this is also how they've gotten away with being so lily-white for so long.) Definitive proof of She's Having a Baby's mediocrity came for me when I saw Tamara Jenkins's Private Life, in which a cultured New York couple struggles with infertility as their biological clocks wind down. It was, next to First Reformed, my favourite film of 2018. I've never been on that side of the family equation and I'm not a churchgoer, either.