Thursday, November 22, 2018

Girl Week 2018: Baby Boom, a guest post by Joel

We've reached Day 4 of Girl Week 2018! It's still Turkey Day...I mean... Eat Yourself Silly Day ahem Thanksgiving Day, and man, this thing is flying by. It's time, once again, to turn the reins over to my de-facto co-host, Joel. While you're reading this, I'll be picking out my next movie. Go for it, Joel.

Directed by Charles Shyer.
1987. Rated PG, 110 minutes.
Diane Keaton
Harold Ramis
Sam Wanamaker
Pat Hingle
James Spader
Sam Shepard
Britt Leach
Annie Golden
Linda Ellerbee
Kim Sebastian

J. C. Wiatt (Diane Keaton) is a hard charging executive at a top New York City advertising agency NOT affectionately referred to as “The Tiger Lady”. Married to her job working 14 to 16 hours a day (impatient and exacting she expects her subordinates to do the same), she lives with Steven Buchner (Harold Ramis) an equally career obsessed investment banker who requires as little emotional commitment as she.

Told by her tough boss Fritz Curtis (Sam Wanamaker) that she’s on the fast track to partner “despite being a woman”, he also warns her that unlike a man she can’t have it all and he expects her fealty to always be her career. She assures him that’s her heart’s desire and she is entrusted with reeling in a potentially huge new client-The Food Chain-a national supermarket.

On the eve of her big lunch meeting with Hughes Larrabee (Pat Hingle) the head of the chain J.C. receives a late night badly connected call that a distant relative and his wife have died in an accident and left her something which must be picked up the next morning at the airport. J.C. expecting a piece of jewelry or some such squeezes in the pickup before her meeting only to discover rather than a valuable bauble she has been left an infant, Elizabeth! At first flabbergasted (“You see I can’t have a baby because I have a 12:30 lunch meeting!”) then apprised of the fact that she is the only relative left to take the child in, she reluctantly agrees.

Confident of her ability to control situations, in this case foolhardily, she takes Elizabeth with her to the meeting and leaves her with the hat check girl for a large tip! It does not go well since Elizabeth, who has instantly taken to J.C., screams her head off throughout the restaurant while J.C. struggles to retain both her equilibrium and calm. Despite the child being plopped in her lap at a crucial moment she still manages to get the account and now the real challenge begins…deciding what comes next!

With Steven completely unenthused at the prospect of fatherhood and a rugged night’s attempt at child care J.C. decides the best course is adoption. Unexpectedly though Elizabeth comes down with a cold, the two bond and when the prospective adoptive parents turn out to be a bible thumping horror show J.C.’s maternal instinct kicks in and she chooses to keep the kid. This doesn’t go down well with Steven, he bolts and J.C. is thrown off balance juggling her high pressure career and the new demands of motherhood.

Struggling for focus and after a series of stressful, but highly amusing, problems and the behind the scenes work of her backstabbing assistant Ken Arrenberg (a thoroughly slimy James Spader) J.C. is faced with a hard choice when Fritz tries to take her off the prestige account she brought in and place her on a nothing low profile one. Rather than submit to that indignity she quits purchasing a 62 acre estate in Vermont with the intention of both raising Elizabeth and regrouping to return and conquer the Big City again.

The initial invigoration of having time on her hands and the beauty of her new home and surrounding orchards is quickly dispersed by the discovery that the place is a lovely shack that is practically coming apart at the seams. As the place rapidly drinks up her cash and she is yep’d and noped by the locals AND buried in the house for long periods by the mountainous snow she herself starts to lose her grip. When she’s told her well has run dry and she must tap into the county line it’s the last straw and she hits the deck. Regaining consciousness she finds herself under the care of the attentive and attractive Dr. Jeff Cooper (Sam Shepard) and she starts telling him her litany of woes until the whinnying of a horse makes her realize he’s a veterinarian (leading to a great meltdown scene)!

Practically at the end of her rope a chance encounter with a group of Yuppies (wife to husband “You don’t need a $12 shirt…Buy a Ralph Lauren!”) in the local store gives her the idea to market the apple sauce and other various recipes she created for Elizabeth as Country Baby-gourmet baby food.

Spirit renewed she goes to work crisscrossing the state with Elizabeth at her side looking to tap into the niche market she’s discovered with rapid success. Meanwhile the originally antagonistic relationship she had with Dr. Cooper has evolved into a wary mutual attraction as J.C. adapts her ambitions with the bucolic life she’s living. Out of the blue she receives a call from old boss Fritz. The Food Chain is interested in acquiring Country Baby and wants to take a meeting. Very excited to be wanted again in such a huge way she heads to the city…..but is she still The Tiger Lady?

Enormously appealing comedy is an ideal fit for Diane Keaton’s multitudinous charms and the film fits her like a glove. She’s surrounded by a phenomenal cast but it’s her personality (and terrific chemistry with the adorable twin girls playing Elizabeth) and skill that makes the movie. She carries it on her shoulder pads (it is the 80’s after all) without breaking a sweat. What makes the picture especially notable is that it presents a woman who though capable and self-possessed at the beginning learns and changes throughout the film. Not settling for the narrow box that society tries to dictate that she inhibit but bending it to her own purposes she emerges a more rounded and better person at the end.

Day 3's Girl Week Entries


  1. Once again wonderfully put together Dell! All great pictures but I especially love the second and the expressions on both Diane Keaton and the baby's faces.

    I LOVE this film! It's one that I liked when I first saw it but that I've grown more fond of with repeat viewings. It played at the theatre I was managing when it originally came out. I remember it well because it was one we polled the audience on as they exited to get their impressions and then had to report the feedback to the studio, which was strongly positive. It also had legs, doing well initially but because of strong word of mouth having the box office continuously improve peaking around it's sixth week ultimately playing for about 3 months. I can't imagine a movie doing that now.

    1. Thanks!

      I haven't seen this one. My excuse is that it came out when I was 16, right when I thought I was too macho for movies like this. Even though I've matured, I just haven't gotten back around to it. Your enthusiasm for it is a great motivator, though.