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  • Writer's pictureBen Pivoz

Babes


Dawn (Michele Buteau) and Eden (Ilana Glazer) deal with motherhood in Babes (Distributed by Neon)

Babes is an indie comedy written/directed by and starring women. It is about female friendship, motherhood and the changes/responsibilities brought on by pregnancy. Female maturity is becoming a more common topic at the movies, bringing a welcome other perspective from all of the stories about immature men being forced to deal with adult life. Babes (99 minutes, without the end credits) is an enjoyable, if imperfect, mixture of stoner comedy, gross-out gags, challenging life-lessons and genuine love for friends who are closer than family. The tone sometimes tilts toward over-the-top and sometimes aims for sincere sentiment. The former is a little more convincing than the latter. Still, it is an entertaining, funny, movie that tells its story using its own unique voice.


Eden and Dawn are lifelong best friends. Dawn is married with two little kids. Eden is very single. Then, Eden has a tremendous evening with a charming man she meets on the train and becomes pregnant. The drama centers around Eden’s decision to have the baby, as Dawn struggles with her own family life.


The quirky appeal and personality of Babes comes chiefly from Ilana Glazer, who stars as Eden and cowrote the screenplay. Glazer has a singular screen presence. When fully unleashed, as she is here, she has a strange physicality to her performance, talking with her whole body, allowing her emotions to control her movements. Her energy, her excitement, her love, no matter the situation, takes over the screen. She can certainly be an outsized comic personality, but her emotions feel real. She grounds them at times here, while also embracing the “living life to the fullest at all times” mentality of the character. Each aspect seems to come organically from the other.

Eden hits it off with Claude (Stephan James)

She has believable chemistry with Michele Buteau, who plays Dawn like a woman who knows she is an adult with people relying on her, but wishes that sometimes she wasn’t. She loves her husband and kids very much, yet Eden lives with a sort of freedom Dawn wants to be able to enjoy, while still then getting to go home to her family. Eden and Dawn’s friendship has a likable familiarity to it. Glazer and Buteau even look at each other in a way that suggests a deep connection. The fact that the ladies are given at least close to equal time makes it so we can see how they affect each other even when they’re apart.


Pamela Adlon, making her big-screen directorial debut, has made something really funny, bordering on touching, though not quite getting there. Despite the story being carried by the relationship between Eden and Dawn, the sequence where Eden meets Claude, her eventual baby daddy, and they hit it off, is probably the most important. The audience has to be able to believe that Eden felt something real because that concept informs her choice to keep the child. If it was goofy or forced, her motivation would fall flat.  Glazer and Stephan James find the right balance of sweetness and humor. It works on its own, as well as in the context of the plot. Those two characters could definitely exist in a romantic comedy where they fall in love. Babes is not that movie.


It is a movie wherein Ilana Glazer and Michele Buteau explore platonic love and try to figure out how to juggle motherhood along with everything else. There are some big laughs, some honest moments, a little repetition and a couple of scenes that just don’t work. Overall, however, this is a fun time.

 

3½ out of 5

 

Cast:

Ilana Glazer as Eden

Michele Buteau as Dawn

Hasan Mihaj as Marty

John Carroll Lynch as Dr. Morris

Stephan James as Claude

 

Directed by Pamela Adlon

Written by Ilana Glazer and Josh Rabinowitz

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