Babies Reviews

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michael e.
Super Reviewer
½ January 5, 2011
Super Reviewer
February 21, 2011
Everybody loves...

Good documentary! The film, stands on its own as a joyous celebration of the first year of life for four youngsters in different parts of the world. Filmed without narration, subtitles, or any comprehensible dialogue, Babies is a direct encounter with four babies who stumble their predictable ways to participating in the awesome beauty of life.Needless to say, their experience of the first year of life is vastly different, yet what stands out is not how much is different but how much is universal as each in their own way attempts to conquer their physical environment.Though the language is different as well as the environment, the babies cry the same, laugh the same, and try to learn the frustrating, yet satisfying art of crawling, then walking in the same way.You will either find Babies entrancing or slow moving depending on your attitude towards babies because frankly that's all there is, yet for all it will be an immediate experience far removed from the world of cell phones and texting, exploring up close and personal the mystery of life as the individual personality of each child begins to emerge. This documentary is not for everyone, I work with kids in these ages so I loved it.

Everybody loves...'Babies'. This visually stunning new movie simultaneously follows four babies around the world - from first breath to first steps. From Mongolia to Namibia to San Francisco to Tokyo, 'Babies' joyfully captures on film the earliest stages of the journey of humanity that are at once unique and universal to us all.
Super Reviewer
May 16, 2011
When a sequel comes out I like to go back and watch the previous movies to refresh my memory so I don't miss anything. Well, in June we're having our first child, and what better way to get ready than to watch a documentary called "Babies." This is probably the cutest movie you will ever see. No narration, just four different babies, from different cultures, from birth to year one. Like the babies themselves, the movie is short and very sweet. There are some moments where the babies expressions make you want to cry, and moments where you will almost cry from laughing so hard. There's even some moments, where as Emily would say, "What in the world?" This is a very touching, cute movie, that I think almost everyone will enjoy.
Super Reviewer
½ April 30, 2011
How could you not love BABIES???? Nothing at all happens in this film but oh my god this is possibly the most adorable movie in the whole world. My favorite baby was the Mongolian baby, how about you? BABIES.
Super Reviewer
January 3, 2011
While this is one of the most visually stunning documentary films I have seen it's a little short when it comes to keeping my attention. With no narration this is just a bunch of beautiful snapshots into the lives of these babies that quickly gets a little old.
The differences between what children have and how they are raised are massive in some cases and it makes me think of all the things we "need" when a new baby is born. All of it seems a little silly at this point.
Mr Awesome
Super Reviewer
December 3, 2010
What can you say about a documentary that has no plot, no narrative, and no apparent purpose (other than that western parents are perhaps a little overzealous in protecting their babies from "germs" and dirt)? Babies is constructed to work soley on a visceral level and your enjoyment of it depends upon how you feel about the babies. To quote the Internet Movie Data Base, the film is "a look at one year in the life of four babies from around the world, from Mongolia to Namibia to San Francisco to Tokyo". The babies are all very cute and the cinematography is at times amazing, but at 79 minutes, the movie seems a little bit long. Getting back to what I said about us westerners and our fear of dirt, it's quite startling to see the namibian mother wiping her baby's bottom on her knee (and then simply brushing her knee clean with a bit of old corn cob), or watching her clean the baby's face with her tongue. Things like baby wipes and diapers, which we consider necessities, are a foreign concept to those living outside our scope of knowledge. The namibian baby also crawls around in dirt and picks up the things she finds in the dirt and puts them in her mouth, a sight which I'm sure will shock most modern parents. And yet, the people in Namibia and Mongolia seem to have no trouble reproducing, and their children don't seem to be suffering any major deficiencies (other than the obvious one of poverty, but this is only a value judgement). Underneath the cultures and material possessions, we're all just human beings. Who's to say whether one life is better than another? We each get to define our own happiness.
Super Reviewer
January 11, 2010
The main thing that strikes me about Babies is how real everything was. Never before has a documentary seemed this real. Perhaps is due to the experience of being around children, but I've never experienced that nostalgic 'oh yeah, that's how it is' sort of feeling during a documentary. Many a conservative parent would take my head for saying this, but the closest thing to compare this to is one of those Nova or Nature programs on public television (the undertone there being that children and animals are not so very different) Babies is much more innovated and vivid, but the general concept is the same. Another thing I absolutely loved is that there is not any dialog or voice-over. Things like Planet Earth have the potential to be absolutely amazing and then there is always obnoxious narration. I do not care about the details! Nor do I want to learn anything! I just want to watch frogs mate! - alright, scratch that last bit. Anyway, the point being, Babies does not need any dialog because there is nothing to communicate. The film appeals to our very humanity and that is done so much better with imagery than with words. So, why isn't there a higher rating? Honestly, after the first 20 minutes it's boring as hell. Towards the end I realized that I was watching as much for the cats as the babies. So much for sentiment. Still, it really is a good, well-done film and these babies are some of the most charming and well-mannered that you are ever likely to come across.
Super Reviewer
½ May 5, 2010
"Ponijao. Mari. Bayar. Hattie."

A look at one year in the life of four babies from around the world, from Mongolia to Namibia to San Francisco to Tokyo.

Documentary style exposition of the first year or so of the lives and experiences of four tiny tots from four widely divergent cultures. We watch basically from their eager-to-learn perspectives as these debutantes to the world learn to embrace life through the cultural lens of their respective families.

The babies' individual stories are told concurrently, with little vignettes of parallel events shown side-by-side to compare and contrast how the rudimentary experiences common to all people are filtered into the different cultures and life styles, but not essentially different in the end. Learning to crawl, walk, how to interact with others, learning about self, etc. are all shown in the normal development chronology. The children hobble, falter, struggle, cry in anguish and frustration, make pratfalls, experiment, learn, and finally succeed. And then: move on to the next challenge in the crazy and wonderful journey of life.

It's difficult to watch the children when they fail or feel pain. It's also cute and funny as their unique personalities begin to emerge: the San Francisco baby has the most humorous moment with her logical and effective reaction to an irritating PC kiddy song. There's very little dialogue; only a few words by the adults is used, as necessary for a few key events. Usually there's cooing or crying by the little ones. The intent works: the kids are the stars.

A gentle documentary that intentionally paces slow and focuses on the babies and how they react. Sweet, joyous, and upbeat.
Super Reviewer
½ July 13, 2010
I loved what was lacking in this film: a narrator, obnoxious soundtrack, and subtitles. They all would take away the core idea of this remarkable film, which really does give you a picture of how children grow up all over the world, but are all basically the same.
Movie Monster
Super Reviewer
October 22, 2010
Babies is a much simpler film than you think. The trailer just shows a montage of clips featuring cute babies. The actual film just shows us how different cultures raise children. Since babies don't talk much and the film is set in Africa, Mongolia, and Japan where English is not the native language, the movie is mostly silent and makes you discuss what you're watching with your chums.

Ponjiao was undeniably adorable, Mari was cute, and Hattie was cute but her hippie tree-hugging parents were creepy. The movie focuses a bit too much on the Mongolian baby, Bayar but that shoudn't kill you. The point of the movie is to make you love all the babies.

Babies is a must-see. The viewing experience is enjoyable but don't let the infant and maternal nudity throw it off for you.
Nate Z.
Super Reviewer
October 13, 2010
This tiny documentary might easily win the award for cutest movie of the year, but at best it's only perfectly suited to have on in the background of your home. Nearly wordless, this French documentary chronicles four newborn babies on four different countries growing up in vastly different cultures, from San Francisco to Namibia to Toyko and Mongolia. The babies are adorable and the sequences rarely last more than a minute with each baby, making this perhaps the fastest paced home movie you'll ever likely see. At the same time, just because the different babies are juxtaposed does not mean that a greater sense of meaning arises from the film. We watch them walk, talk, and discover the various stimuli of their environment in beautiful photography. Babies may be the best looking documentary that conveys the least substance. This may be the cutest waste of time you'll have all year at the movies.

Nate's Grade: C+
Super Reviewer
½ May 8, 2010
Passive documentary follows 4 newborns through their first year, born in Namibia, Mongolia, Japan, and the USA. Affectionate account lacks narration or even anything resembling an inquiring mind. We're presented scene after scene of beautifully shot images of babies acting like babies. Granted some of the vignettes are captivating. Let's face it, babies are cute. Unfortunately, French filmmaker Thomas Balmes squanders a golden opportunity to seriously delve into the development of an infant in the first year. Ultimately it's just a superficial collection of home videos of children without the insight that could have elevated this film into something extraordinary. If there is a point, it's that babies are all the same, no matter what country or culture. I learned that watching Sesame Street.
Super Reviewer
August 21, 2011
"Babies" is a slight documentary that seeks to detail the lives of babies in Namibia, Mongolia, Tokyo and San Francisco in a cinema verite style which works for and against the documentary. On the one hand, there are no annoying judgmental voiceovers which also sadly means we do not get to hear from the parents. That leads to a mostly visual approach which focuses on the most photogenic subjects which are definitely the babies with the parents usually just out of the frame.(The cats would definitely disagree with this assessment as they have a way of finding themselves in the frame in order for them to lobby to be the subjects of the sequel.) So, the movie does not take full advantage of its otherwise global approach and provides little true insight with the exception of Namibia, which unlike the other locations, the father is absent and there is a permanent extended family, which might not be out of necessity as it is out of tradition.
Super Reviewer
½ May 15, 2010
Not so much a documentary as either an invitation to (a) four very high-tech/high-def home movies or (b) a strange international parenting seminar. For a documentary to be successful, it seems to me, it has to have a point of view. If that point of view is too strong it can call the whole enterprise into question (see CASINO JACK earlier this week), but if it's so weak that it seems nonexistant, it really is just a collection of images. I'm all for having things dumped in my lap to figure out how I feel about them, and to be fair to these filmmakers, I think that is part of what they're up to; but when it is cameras just watching four babies in four parts of the world, some of what I draw from that without context starts to become ill-informed or even counter-productive (I shouldn't walk out of this judging parenting skills based on economic level, should I? and if I should, wouldn't you want to call your movie PARENTS?). So that leaves this movie being, at best, some very adorable moments with babies. And I know some babies - I'd rather spend the time with them.
Super Reviewer
January 17, 2011
The trailer checked all the right boxes and showed promise of an insightful documentary on the early growth of infants across countries and cultures. The movie, sadly, did not. Perhaps it was the lack of a narration, it turned out to merely be a collection of home videos of cute babies being cute babies, which might be good enough of a reason to watch.
Super Reviewer
½ May 6, 2010
A delightful glimpse into one year in the life of four babies from around the world. Ponijao from Namibia, Bayar from Mongolia, Mari from Tokyo, and Hattie from San Francisco. Rated PG for cultural nudity thoughout (which wasn't sexual at all) I found it a joy and the four babies were just so precious. I kept laughing the whole way through at all the cute things. I just loved how the movie compared the different parenting styles from the yoga classes in America and the group dance lessons in Japan to the children amusing themselves with rocks in Namibia and toilet paper and mud in Mongolia. I loved watching how the babies sort of were a bit pampered and smothered with love in American and Japan but in Namibia and Mongolia, the babies were left alone a lot to explore and learn on their own. Big brothers often taught them and played with them. Animals surrounded these babies, and when a rooster jumped up next to baby, the mother did not scold it down, and the baby was allowed to play among cows and goats and almost got smacked in the head by a calf tripping over the crawling baby. It was interesting to observe the different ways people bathe their children in different cultures and how they teach them about things. The children in Namibia learn to walk earlier than other babies for some reason and seem intellectually brighter even though they have a lack of stuff that the more "advanced" modern cultures have.

The photography and musical score is very good. There is no voice over... just the babies cooing and gurgling and sometimes the mothers and fathers speaking their native tongue.

The fun part is to create you own narrative as the babies explore and wonder about the world around them. The themes of this movie were the differeneces between cultures but also the universality of man.

One of my favorite parts of the movie was the struggle and triumph of learning to stand and walk. Another funny part is when a Namibia baby discovers his penis for the first time and his older brother tries to tell him that it is private and keeps putting down his brother's flap while the baby keeps trying to lift it and inspect. It's a great way to spend 79 minutes so give it a try!
Super Reviewer
½ May 10, 2010
A film based on the vision of the guy who played Napoleon in A Night at the Museum (not kidding). The universal appreciation of new borns across continents and cultures is absolutely fascinating. I however was amazed at how uncomfortable I was at times and I have seen very disturbing images on film. It seemed to be too much of an invasion of privacy of intimate family moments.
Super Reviewer
August 18, 2010
Like blue-jeans, tennis shoes, and hard drugs, documentaries also seem to come in ?designer? motifs these days. These docs are designed to fit snugly, look pretty, and give a feel-good vibe without any real long-term benefits. Babies proves to be such a documentary. In previews, the film plied filmgoers with scenes of impossibly cute infants cooing and crawling around to the delight of a captive audience?and dammit, it delivers these goods as promised. In terms of showcasing the early developmental steps of a human being, however, the doc has the educational value of a Pampers commercial.

This PG-rated globe-trotting documentary follows four babies (San Francisco, CA; Japan; Mongolia; and Africa) ? chronicling everything from first breaths to baby steps ? simultaneously following the joyous and trying early stages of life.

After the heart-warming feel-good doc March of the Penguins went on to make $77 million at the box office, this reviewer was surprised that a documentarian hadn?t yet tried to capitalize on the aw-shucks cuteness of baby-fever. It takes a great deal of time, energy, and patience to make a proper documentary, however. There is no doubting director Thomas Balmes? work ethic, but his style leaves much to be desired. Yes, filmgoers get to see that all babies, regardless of culture, develop at pretty much the same clip. At 79 minutes, the doc cheats its subjects and audience of something much more substantial. Longer takes would have given viewers more of an emotional investment than a quick snack. Instead, the all-too-brief vignettes have the gnats-attention-span of a music video.

Bottom line: More wah-wah than rah-rah.
Super Reviewer
½ May 14, 2010
It was mildly funny, but the whole thing was like a cuteness overload. And there wasn't any point really.
Super Reviewer
April 28, 2012
Watched in Psychology class, interesting documentary, but not great. There needed to have some sort of dialogue or voice over, but there was none.
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