Movies That Made Me The Woman I Am Today: Ode To “Baby Boom”

posted in: Art, Family, Paean 9
I love absolutely everything about this picture. (Screenshot from "Baby Boom".)
I love absolutely everything about this picture. It was also very, very hard to pick a single image for this post. (Screenshot from “Baby Boom”.)

 

Awhile back, I praised one of my film heroes: the outrageously brilliant Goldie Hawn. I wrote about my family’s fierce love for the movie Overboard, Goldie, and Goldie and Kurt Russell’s love. My love was echoed by many people in the comments and on Facebook. Lots of us love Overboard and that’s why the world is gonna be okay. (Maybe.)

Someday, I will talk about my all-time favorite movie ever, on Earth, ever, ever — which would be Tootsie — but not tonight. Tonight, I need to talk about Baby Boom. 

If you haven’t seen Baby Boom, allow me to summarize the plot. No spoilers, don’t worry:

A high-powered New York City executive, J.C. Wiatt — played by the incomparable Diane Keaton  and more on her in a minute — gets a call in the middle of the night. She has inherited something from a long-lost cousin who has died suddenly. When she goes to pick up her inheritance, it’s a baby. She inherited her cousin’s baby Elizabeth. (More on that baby in a minute, too.)

J.C. Wiatt is like, “Are you crazy?! I’m a high-powered executive! I can’t have a baby!” and she tries to get rid of Elizabeth but guess what? J.C. Wiatt becomes attached to the lil’ peanut and can’t bring herself to give Elizabeth back. J.C. is forced to admit that she kind of hates her hectic life and her lame boyfriend and so she gets out of the game and moves herself and Elizabeth into a dream home in rural Vermont where she meets a hot, hot, hot veterinarian, played by Sam Shepard, and I’m not waiting to talk about him. Sam Shepard (the actor/playwright/mystical creature) is so incredibly handsome and charming in this movie, you will literally stomp your foot and slap your leg and go, “Oh, come on!!” because he is just ridiculous.

Anyway, J.C. goes stir-crazy out there in rural Vermont (she’s a high-powered executive!) and her house nearly bankrupts her because it’s a lemon. Besides, it turns out she misses the hustle n’ bustle of New York. At some point during the interminable winter, J.C. starts making homemade baby food for Elizabeth. Soon, she’s selling it in farmer’s markets and country stores around New England and before you know it, J.C. Wiatt’s got a tiger by the tail! Country Baby gourmet baby food is a hit! She’s back in the game!

Will she leave Vermont, the house, her new friends, and the hot, hot, hot veterinarian and sell Country Baby for millions? Will she move back to New York City with Elizabeth and raise her daughter in the most exciting place on the planet or stay in the slow lane? You’ll have to watch the movie to find out.

So now let me tell you something fabulous that I just discovered, unless you’re already clicking over to rent the movie on Amazon, a decision I fully support. Just come back when you’re done.

Check this out: Baby Boom was made in 1987. It was directed by Charles Shyer. It was written by Charles Shyer and Nancy Meyer. Guess what other brilliant Goldie Hawn movie my family loves as much as Overboard? Why, Private Benjamin,  of course. Well, guess who wrote Private Benjamin?? Nancy Meyer and Charles Shyer!! And Shyer directed it, too! And it came out the same year as Baby Boom! 

It feels great to be so consistent. It’s like, “Oh, no wonder I like this thing. It’s exactly like this other thing!” I love it when that happens.

So there are many reasons why Baby Boom is so good: comedic timing, pathos communicated without schlock, and swift pacing all come to mind. But most of all, I love that movie because of the character of J.C. Wiatt, the way Diane Keaton plays her, and — wait for it — J.C. Wiatt’s clothes.

The 1980s are not often given credit for being a fashionable decade. It’s generally understood that the 1970s were worse, which is something, I guess, but people think of the 1980s and they think of neon, shoulder pads, big hair, and acid-washed jeans. But this is so not all the 1980s were in terms of clothes!

J.C. Wiatt proves this. Her thick, cable-knit sweaters. Her luscious scarves. Her swingy, belted dresses with yes, shoulderpads. (They make a waist look smaller and shoulders broad and handsome, if you ask me.) Her handbags, her shoes, her broach. Her other broach. Her big glasses! Oh, those great big glasses. I love it all. So does my younger sister. We have been known to just randomly email each other screenshots of Diane Keaton in Baby Boom with the subject line: “FASHION GOALS.”

The clothes look great on Keaton because Keaton is gorgeous (she was 41 when she made that movie, by the way) and because J.C. Wiatt is a great character. She’s a woman who wants it all — and wanting it all is complicated. She’s got a big heart and big ambitions.She’s conflicted, but she’s trying her best. She’s smart. She’s funny. When I watch that movie, I find myself wanting to either be Diane Keaton and/or J.C. Wiatt, be best friends with Diane Keaton/J.C. Wiatt, have Diane Keaton and/or J.C. Wiatt suddenly be my other mother, and also be like Diane Keaton and/or J.C. Wiatt when I grow up. And then there’s Sam Shepard in the mix, so watching Baby Boom is an intense experience.

Tonight, Baby Boom, I salute you. You really have had a huge impact on me and my sisters. We look up to you and we appreciate you. Also, J.C. Wiatt has a quilt hanging in her dining room, so that pretty much seals the deal.

 

9 Responses

  1. Melody A.
    | Reply

    Love that movie, made my kids watch it many times when they were growing up. the youngest can still play the theme song on the piano from it, chopstick like!! but still it has stuck in his head. thank you for reminding me! take care from Iowa

  2. Judy Forkner
    | Reply

    I loved that movie!

  3. Carol
    | Reply

    Mary, I always knew we had a lot in common! Baby Boom is in my top 5 of all time greatest movies. LOVE the Tiger lady. I watch this move at least 4 times a year. I will never grow tired of it. What an inspiration JC is. Thanks for writing about it. I can not wait to find out what your top number one movie is.

  4. Auntie Allyn
    | Reply

    Nancy Meyer also wrote Something’s Gotta Give, another wonderful And fashionable Diane Keaton movie (and one of my all-time favorites).

  5. Donna
    | Reply

    I will always watch that movie any time I can! I love JC Wiatt. Also, James Spader was her smarty pants nemesis! Love him,
    Now I have to watch for that quilt in the dining room!

  6. M
    | Reply

    Sorry Mary , but the best all-time woman’s wardrobe in a movie was the Rene Russo/Catherine Banning character in A Thomas Crown Affair. I actually just drafted a quilt based on the colors of some of her outfits (cream, camel, black). Everything she wore you could wear today and look great.
    Marj (of Marj and Jim fame)(Jim says Hi!)

  7. Nadine donovan
    | Reply

    Ok- I am intrigued- I will have to watch this!

  8. Margaret S
    | Reply

    I love that movie as well and overboard, but my favorite of that genre is First Wives Club!
    What say you?

  9. Sandra
    | Reply

    Yup, I went right over to Amazon and rented the movie, I had seen it before. Just finished watching, loved it. I’m a real Diane fan, though sometimes she is irritating being “over Diane” I call it! And Sam Shepard, what is it about him?….he’s just so “aww shucks” appealing. Who couldn’t grin all the way through at those adorable babies?

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