'Babes' - Full of Missed Opportunities

"Babes" via IMDb.

If you are among the throngs chomping at the bit to see queer actor Ilana Glazer (of “Broad City” fame) in a movie lead role, the wait is over. In “Babes” (Neon), directed by Pamela Adlon, and co-written by Glazer and Josh Rabinowitz, Glazer plays self-absorbed and misinformed Eden who unexpectedly finds herself pregnant after a one-night stand.

“Babes” opens promisingly enough with the kind of NYC montage made famous by Woody Allen. It even incorporates another Woody shtick – two close friends, Eden and the very pregnant Dawn (Michelle Buteau), meeting under a movie theater marquee. But it diverts quickly with Eden’s verbal assault on the box office person, followed by a bit involving the leakage in advance of Dawn’s water breaking.

Best friends since childhood, Eden and Dawn are known for being there for each other throughout life’s most significant moments. This means that along with Dawn’s husband Marty (Hasan Minhaj), and the medical staff, Eden is present at the birth of Dawn’s daughter Melanie. However, her weak stomach doesn’t permit her to stay long.

On the subway, on the way home to Astoria after her long day on the Upper West Side, Eden meets Claude (Stephan Jame), an actor who just finished filming a scene in a new Martin Scorsese movie. As luck would have it, Claude also lives in Astoria, and four train transfers later, he’s with Eden at her apartment where she kicks his ass in a game of “Street Fighter.” There is physical attraction and, after they both make it clear that they have both been recently tested for STIs, and Eden lets him know she’s on her period, they have unprotected sex.

Not only does Eden discover that she’s pregnant, during a wild night of drinking and shrooming with Dawn who’s having some postpartum issues, she later learns that Claude died by choking on an almond the day after their sexual fling. In a moment that could have added some gravitas to the proceedings, considering the overturning of Roe v. Wade, “Babes” goes full-on wacky, with Eden deciding to take the single mother route.

“Babes” feels like it’s full of missed opportunities, including a shocking lack of comedic moments. Seriously, there are virtually no laughs to be found. What it does have is an overabundance of body-function humor, with an emphasis on bowel movements (from childbirth to the exploding toilet pipes in Dawn and Marty’s 200 years old house).

To be fair, there are some worthwhile moments, including when Eden’s agoraphobic hoarder father Bernie (Oliver Platt) joins her during a pregnancy procedure. Also, the scenes in which Dawn confronts Eden about her thoughtlessness, including showing Dawn’s 4-year-old son Tommy (Caleb Mermelstein-Knox) the movie “The Omen,” feel genuine. Unfortunately, they don’t add up too much, and neither does “Babes.” 

Rating: D+


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