Movie Review: BABIES

Let me be clear. I’m not into cutesy stuff. You try baby talkin’ to me, I will probably punch you. I don’t fall for awwwjerking entertainment.


But I love cute babies and Babies (opening today, limited release) has four of them. Producer Alain Chabat, who came up with the idea, and director Thomas Balmès documented the kids from birth to first steps by letting the camera observe them in their natural habitats with no interference (which gets a little nerve-wracking sometimes).


The cast: Ponijao, a Namibian girl; Bayarjargal, a boy from Mongolia; Mari, a Japanese girl, and Hattie, a girl from San Francisco. There’s hardly any dialogue or music; adults are practically extras. The babies are the main attractions and they are enough to carry the movie.


My favorite segments are with Bayar, the adventurer who roams free on all fours among cows and goats, and Ponijao, who loves sticking everything in her mouth, including a bone of unknown origin found in the dirt. Mari has one of the funniest scenes in the movie, throwing herself on the ground in fits of despair when she can’t figure out the concept of simple toys. Surprisingly, the parts with Hattie are least engrossing, though it’s no fault of hers. Because her American upbringing is so familiar—playgrounds, Kindermusik-type lessons, parents reading parenting books—her experiences offer no new insight.


Watching these babies discover the world is a delight, even if it was difficult at times to see Ponijao and Bayar surrounded by flies. I wanted to reach through the screen and wipe their faces, yank out things that shouldn’t be in their mouths. But whether crawling in dirt naked or being carted around in strollers, the babies are much more resilient than we give them credit for, and they don’t need fancy trappings in order to thrive. Bayar looks elated eating toilet paper, while Ponijao finds wonder in licking a dog. And can you remember when your own feet fascinated you? Director Balmès doesn’t try to hit us over the head with any kind of statement; for me, Babies was a simple reminder that no matter how we were raised, we were born strong and can find joy anywhere.

Now excuse me while I go play with my toes.

Nerd verdict: Fun to watch Babies

Photos courtesy Focus Features



  • Reply
    May 7, 2010 at 8:32 am

    Those pictures are hilarious. I don’t have kids, but I have to admit, kids crack me up. Most likely I won’t be bragging to my buddies about it, but I am going to go see this film.

    In one of the trailers I saw, one of the babies is in a field and struggling to stand up. When he finally does, the whole theater cheered.

    Glad to hear you liked it. I’m sure I will, too.

  • Reply
    Brett Battles
    May 7, 2010 at 8:41 am

    I loved the trailer for BABIES. Glad to hear the movie lives up. Will put it on my list…

  • Reply
    May 7, 2010 at 8:50 am

    Thanks for this review! I don’t doubt that I’ll try to reach out toward the screen to try to stop or help one of children. I wonder if the filmakers will do a followup on them. Do you know if these were the only babies followed?

    I was impressed to find this is playing here in Nashville. Not to mention that it’s at a first run theatre and not the local historic art house.

  • Reply
    May 7, 2010 at 9:16 am

    It will be much more fun to watch other people’s babies…now that mine are grown I can relax and enjoy; looking forward to seeing it with my 16 year old.

  • Reply
    May 7, 2010 at 2:34 pm


    The trailer for this film is awesome!

    I have to go. Those babies faces…..OMG!!

  • Reply
    Pop Culture Nerd
    May 7, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    Reader#9—When Bayar stands up, you will cheer, too. He looks so triumphant!

    Brett—Love to hear your thoughts after you see it.

    Christine—My husband said to me afterwards he’d never heard me so vocal at a movie. I kept yelling, “Oh no!” “Be careful!” “Don’t do that!” at the screen (I’m normally very quiet at movies and despise people who talk). I just couldn’t help myself.

    Jann—Hope you and your 16 year old enjoy it!

    EIREGO—I did want to squeeze and pinch the heck out of their chubby cheeks, arms and legs!

  • Reply
    May 7, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    i CANNOT wait to see this movie. wednesday night with a bunch of folks. yay!!

  • Reply
    May 7, 2010 at 7:35 pm

    Glad to hear you liked this movie! I saw a trailer for it and although I was riveted, I wasn’t sure if a I could deal with a whole movie of babies. But since it’s just 4 babies, and it doesn’t seem to be done in an overly cute style, I’ll definitely go see it.

  • Reply
    May 7, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    Haven’t seen the trailer but after reading your review + reaction, I really want to see this movie! Working in retail I see babies every day. The joy + innocence in their eyes is so refreshing; their smiles of angels. Uh, PCN, playing with your toes? Oh the simple pleasures of life! Lol!

  • Reply
    Shell Sherree
    May 7, 2010 at 10:16 pm

    Oh so cute!! Simple pleasures ~ isn’t that the truth. I’ve definitely become blase about my toes. You’ve inspired me to re-connect with them, PCN.

  • Reply
    Pop Culture Nerd
    May 8, 2010 at 2:02 pm

    Joy—That sounds like a fun way to see it!

    Katiefornia—The director didn’t try to manipulate the kids into doing anything cute—he just let them be—so it’s definitely not obnoxious.

    Donna—I think you’d like it! Here’s the trailer.

    Shell—Bayar’s fascination with his feet made me laugh and think, “Toes ARE fun!”

  • Reply
    Jen Forbus
    May 9, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    This is a unique concept. I only know about movies when you tell me, PCN. Since I literally never watch TV these days, I miss all the trailers for upcoming movies.

    Maybe this will start a movement in American parents to stop over-indulging their children. My niece and nephew, I truly believe, were over-stimulated as babies because they had so many toys and trappings. They never stayed with any one thing for very long because they were being tempted by all the gads of other things surrounding them. Yeesh!

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