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The Baby Dance Reviews

Unable to endure any more miscarriages, childless TV executives Richard (Peter Riegert) and Rachel Luckman (Stockard Channing) advertise for a baby. Their parenthood plea catches the eye of dirt-poor Wanda Le Fauvre (Laura Dern) and her heavy-drinking husband Al (Richard Lineback), who can barely support the brood they already have. Venturing down South, Rachel and Richard check out the gene pool, negotiate financial perks, and monitor Wanda's pre-natal care. As suspicious as Rachel is desperate, Richard resents Al's attempts to siphon off funds earmarked for the unborn child. A war of nerves escalates, as Wanda bristles at Rachel's interference in long-standing domestic dilemmas that Rachel can only address with a quick fix. Helmed by playwright Jane Anderson, this small-screen adaptation of Anderson's Off Broadway hit builds upon the power of her own play. A poignant socio-drama, it doesn't find any villains, only victims in its exploration of the repercussions of fecundity vs. barrenness. The expertise of Anderson's writing lies in coloring the issues in realistic shades of gray. Although uneducated Wanda chain smokes cigarettes and bends to her husband's will, she's a good mother. Rachel and Richard, by contrast, can give a child all the material advantages but behave like employers worried that the hired help is putting something over on them. Refusing to patronize or excuse Wanda and Al, the film examines the pitfalls of subsistence living. Simultaneously, it doesn't exempt Richard and Rachel from criticism as they wriggle out of commitment, when things don't go as planned. Coaxing the truth out of the darkest corners of its characters' psyches, this complex drama sees the unwanted baby as the casualty of warring couples trying to buy happiness.