Day 2's summer movie experience couldn't have been more different than Day 1 save one thing. The four little ones in Babies are just as easily charming and amusing as Day 1 hero Robert Downey, Jr. They're not even a fraction of his size, and neither will they garner Rob's opening weekend take, but these kids and their tiny documentary that could and will should have sizeable legs based on the good word that's likely to spread.
Picking a theater close to my home near the beaches of Santa Monica, and the earliest show to take advantage of the So Cal weather currently in effect, this leisurely morning screening with 14 fortysomethings and olders was a bit of a switch from a midnight opening night with hundreds of rabid comicbook fanboys.
Gratefully, this outing with Babies was a genuine surprise. I know the trailer, featuring all kinds of cute moments in the lives of four kids in different parts of the globe (Ponijao from Namibia, Mari in Tokyo, Bayarjargal in Mongolia, and fresh-faced Hattie in San Francisco), has been earning awws and coos for months. But I'm not sure I - the perennial bachelor - would have rushed to see it had it not been for this particular movie experiment.
Count me a convert. This French production from director Thomas Balmes is as advertised -- a nonfussy, realistic and magical view into the world of babes, highlighted by some gorgeous cinematography and an unintrusive, pefect rhythmic music score.
The concept's as simple as the trailer. There's hardly any dialogue, no narration, and just a bunch of real, captured moments of the babies at play and in all other sorts of conditions. The kids from Namibia and Mongolia may not have the same material surroundings as their urban counterparts, but, as we all sort of know, babies are babies are babies. No matter where they're from, they're cute, tenacious, ever curious and entirely incapable of being anything but themselves. The movie does a great job of capturing their literal first steps, and ends on a natural high. It'll be interesting, years from now, to see how the grownup versions react to their precocious, unkowing movie star younger selves.
Brit filmmaker Michael Apted made the fascinating "7 Up" documentary series that followed a group of folks every near decade throughout their lives. That was a little more serious. It'd be fun to see a lighter version of this foursome, even in just a few years.
To all those out there who aren't parents yet (I know those who are have their tickets already, right?), this is a great movie trip for us, too. In real life, I'm amazed, and frankly exhausted after a full day spent with most of my friends who do have kids. It's not that I don't like children, or want kids myself...but it's more that I and they seem to realize I'm just a bigger version of them. Plus, on the amazed side, I can't fathom the energy it takes to keep up with these incredible little beings. Watching Babies is a reminder, I imagine, of why it's worth it. Who needs movies to captivate when you've got kids?