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Babyfever Reviews

Henry Jaglom continues his self-help-for-lunch-bunch roundtable series with BABYFEVER, a thinly-plotted excuse to solicit women's opinions on the topic of the day--in this case, the biological time bomb. As in EATING, VENICE/VENICE, and NEW YEAR'S DAY, Jaglom mounts a soapbox opera of improvisations and first-person asides on topics of interest to middle-aged trendies. Co-written by and starring Victoria Foyt, real-life mother of the director's child, BABYFEVER follows Gena (Foyt), a fortyish career architect whose boyfriend-next-door James (Matt Salinger) may or may not have accidentally impregnated her. At work, her secretary is pregnant and absent-minded, her boss Mark Fein (Zack Norman) is trying to lie his way around calamitous balloon payments, and her movie star ex-lover (Eric Roberts) falls from the sky to ask her to bear his children. The wait for Gena's missed period drives the film's internal clock. Boyfriend James, ever the nice guy (as in "finishes last"), claims he's thrilled, and shows her designs for a house he's optioned. As various pregnant friends become sounding boards, her sister makes an emotional case against single parenthood, while Gena's one attempt to cuddle with a baby sends it shrieking. Matters come to a head when her doctor's office promises to call her back with test results and Gena prepares to face her crucible at a baby shower for Millie Fein (Elaine Kagan), her boss's wife. This she does by soliciting opinions from a broad spectrum of female party guests on every aspect of pregnancy, fertility, and biological responsibility. We spend the next several reels in the company of the sort of people Henry Jaglom finds interesting. An au pair/nanny recites a strange and disturbing litany of facts about female anatomy from her time in pre-med. A black woman is confident the Lord will provide her with a man. A pediatrician counsels everyone on how best to capitalize on ovulation. Two lesbians puzzle out the protocol of same-sex parenting ("Are we both mommies? Am I an aunt?"). A woman pushing 40 keeps a gay friend in reserve, just in case. A career woman doesn't want children and resents those who insist she does. Another woman has the perfect relationship, except he won't consider children. A single lesbian finds turkey basters unromantic. All this leads to a spirited discussion of sex during pregnancy--how some women find it fun and funny; how some feel sexy, but don't enjoy sex, etc. A sub-plot at the party involves Millie discovering the extent of Mark's financial shenanigans, culminating in his admission that he plans to fire Gena so as to shirk the health care tab. Finally, James shows up uninvited and Gena gives him the news--she's not pregnant, but she can't marry him. Like most of Jaglom's films, BABYFEVER wraps the angst of the overprivileged in a cute, disposable package designed for easy consumption by audiences indistinguishable from the vapid bourgeoisie portrayed on screen. It exists at the point where auteurism meets narcissism; where self-aware stands for self-consumed; and where the adjuration to "write from experience" produces a kinder, gentler egocentrism. Still, if you're not one of those who hears New Age as a rhyme for sewage, and if the sensitive male doesn't make your skin crawl, then this just might be worth the celluloid it's printed on. (Adult situations, profanity.)