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    Boom Boon

    Posted by Mike Finnegan on

    It’s hard to believe it’s been 30 years since co-writer/producer Nancy Meyers and co-writer/director Charles Shyer delivered Baby Boom (1987). Before that, they’d comically explored the difficulties of a pampered wife-turned-army recruit and the neglected child of self-absorbed show-biz parents in Private Benjamin (1980) and Irreconcilable Differences (1984) and would update for the ’90s an old favorite about the chaos unleashed by the planning for a family wedding, Father of the Bride (1991). In his review for the last-named title, Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote: “It's one of the movies with a lot of smiles and laughter in it, and a good feeling all the way through. The movie was directed by Charles Shyer and produced by Nancy Meyers, and their previous credits include two films in the same vein, Irreconcilable Differences and Baby Boom (which starred [Father of the Bride’s Diane] Keaton as a career woman who suddenly finds herself a mother). There are no great revelations of stunning insights in their films. Just everyday life, warmly observed.” The everyday life observed in Baby Boom centers on the upheavals unleashed when a self-absorbed (there’s that adjective again) fast-track Manhattan careerist has parenthood thrust upon her in the form of a suddenly orphaned infant relative. Because it marked Keaton’s return to comedy after a handful of dramatic roles, it was a cause for celebration as well as wry commentary about the demands “having it all” place on women in the workplace, and of course Keaton (the upcoming recipient of the American Film Institute’s Life Achievement Award in June) and the topical subject matter are still relevant. “Not since Annie Hall has Keaton’s ‘gee-whiz’ personality and excellent comic ability been so properly used,” Jay Robert Nash and Stanley Ralph Ross proclaimed in The Motion Picture Guide. Meyers went on to a smashing solo career as a director (What Women Want) and writer/director (The Parent Trap (1998), Something’s Gotta Give [also with Keaton], The Holiday, It’s Complicated and The Intern), one of Hollywood’s few successful women helmers with an ongoing track record. In a September 2015 Los Angeles Times interview by Rebecca Keegan of Meyers and The Intern star Anne Hathaway, a direct line was drawn between the two workplace stories. Meyers reflected: “They're a little bit like companion pieces. How we've grown is that one woman is the founder and CEO of her company and the other is an employee who had a sit-down chat with her boss who said, ‘Are you going to have kids or aren't you? ‘Cause if you are that's going to be a problem.’ In The Intern, she's a mother and a CEO. But underneath all that there's some problem that still exists. So they're bookends in a way.” Hathaway agreed, adding: “There's no Jules [Hathaway’s Intern part] without J.C. [Keaton's character]. You and I, we're standing on the shoulders of women who had to have conversations with their bosses like, ‘Are you having kids or not 'cause if you're having kids you're no good to me?’ Things like that may still be thought, but they're not spoken in the workplace anymore. I'm happy that the story is improving.” So Baby Boom holds up nicely as a funny fable of the go-go ’80s while still retaining its glow in our harder new millennium, thanks not only to Keaton, but also to co-stars Harold Ramis, Sam Wanamaker, Sam Shepard, James Spader and Pat Hingle. With an Audio Commentary by Twilight Time power couple Julie Kirgo and Nick Redman, Baby Boom’s warm observations are ready for adoption March 14 on TT hi-def Blu-ray. Preorders open tomorrow, Wednesday March 1.