There's Something About Baby Mary
Back in 1985 Coline Serreau made a French film called "3 hommes et un couffin" about 3 bachelors who find themselves looking after a little baby. If that sounds familiar you wouldn't be wrong as "3 Men and a Baby" from 1987 is basically the Hollywood remake which other than a couple of minor changes is faithful to the French original. And it has to be said that "3 Men and a Baby" was for the most an entertaining hit, raking in the money which lead to the inevitable sequel "3 Men and a Little Lady" and this may not come as a shock but rumours have been rebounding about a possible third movie featuring a wedding storyline.
Peter (Tom Selleck - Jesse Stone: Benefit of the Doubt), Michael (Steve Guttenberg - Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol) and Jack (Ted Danson - Body Heat) are three bachelors, all with an eye for a pretty woman and all sharing the same bachelor pad. During a party for Peter, Jack agrees to accept a package for a director friend and hold it for a couple of days until it's collected. But Jack is heading off to shoot a movie in Turkey and so leaves Peter and Michael to look after things. Except there is confusion when they discover a baby on their doorstep, believing that is the package they are forced to somehow look after it, something they are ill equipped to do. Things get more confusing when in the midst of trying to stop the baby from crying the real package turns up which turns out to be drugs. Let's just say that between looking after a baby, drug dealing bad guys and a narcotics cop the lives of these bachelors will be changed for ever.
For me "3 Men and a Baby" is a mixed bag because it has a lot going on with a baby, drugs as well as cops and it's all very obvious but at the same time it also works with plenty of memorable movie scenes which will bring a smile to your face. But right from the start it sort of sets the scene for what is to come with doing too much and over complicating matters. From the opening scenes running through the credits through to the day after the party it seems to be trying to force the point that in Jack, Peter and Michael we have three men who love women, really love women and have the perfect bachelor pad. It's heavy handed and although amusing just goes on for far too long as if we really needed to be told over and over again.
Thankfully things do move on with the introduction of the baby, Mary, left on their doorstep and although it remains very obvious it is also very amusing. Watching Tom Selleck and Steve Guttenberg as Peter and Michael trying to care for a baby is full of obvious gags such as changing nappies, feeding, buying baby stuff and so on. But it is where "3 Men and a Baby" is at its charming best because there is so much amusement to be had from hopeless men caring for a baby with the baby powder on the pool table being one of the many memorable scenes. It doesn't even matter that the jokes tend to be repetitive as they struggle with such chores as bathing Mary because each time it generates the laughs intended.
But as already mentioned it sort of over complicates things with the real package which turns out to be drug, the bad guys wanting their package back and the cops who end up suspecting the 3 friends of being drug dealers. "3 Men and a Baby" definitely needed another storyline but this drugs storyline feels wrong, over crowding things too much and in comparison to the amusement of Peter, Michael and Jack's haphazard attempts to look after baby Mary is quite weak and dull even when gags are thrown in.
As well as being amusing "3 Men and a Baby" is also obviously very cutesy. You know that these bachelors will end up becoming emotionally attached to baby Mary and there are some really nice tender moments, which may be cliche but they work. And as the storyline develops this affection for Mary comes to the fore yet again as it over complicates things by drawing out an ending much longer than was necessary to achieve that perfect happy ever after conclusion.
Much of the reason why "3 Men and a Baby" works is thanks to the clever casting of Tom Selleck, Steve Guttenberg and Ted Danson in the roles of the 3 bachelors Peter, Michael and Jack. Each of them at the time were associated with a certain character, Selleck was the hunky macho sort of guy, Danson thanks to "Cheers" was identifiable as a smooth talking ladies man whilst Guttenberg won women over with humour. And each of them play to these characteristics perfectly but also bouncing off each other equally brilliantly to deliver a great deal of comedy.
Aside from Selleck, Guttenberg and Danson who are all equal to each other when it comes to their performances, well there isn't much else to shout out about. Well in fact there is as although I like Nancy Travis the amount of over acting going on in her few scenes as Mary's mother Sylvia ends up grating rather than being amusing and the talent of Philip Bosco as Detective Melkowitz is lost thanks to trying to combine too many stories.
Strangely "3 Men and a Baby" is as much remembered for a certain myth about a ghost as it is for the movie itself. There is a scene where Jack, Mary and his mother are talking and in the background is supposedly the ghost of a young boy standing in the window, who is supposed to have killed himself in that apartment. The truth is "3 Men and a Baby" was shot on a sound stage and that ghost, is actually a cardboard cut out of Danson's character which was used as part of a few scenes but never made it into the final cut of the movie. But a little bit of myth never hurt a movie and the "3 Men and a Baby" ghost certainly caused a few people to watch the movie again when it came out on video.
What this all boils down to is that "3 Men and a Baby" is an entertaining movie despite suffering from some major issues. There is a lot of humour to be had from men looking after a baby and much of it is ploughed to great effect yet it over complicates matters with the subsidiary storylines. And even though "3 Men and a Baby" is over twenty years old it's as entertaining as ever. Hopefully if they do make a third movie it will find some way to recapture that magic which makes it still a fun way to spend an evening.
Tags: Instant Families