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One of the Best Comedies of the Year Is About Pregnancy

By Sara Clements | Film | May 21, 2024 |

By Sara Clements | Film | May 21, 2024 |


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The depiction seen most often when a woman’s water breaks is like a bursting water balloon. Eden (Ilana Glazer), speaking our inner thoughts for us, is surprised when her friend Dawn’s (Michelle Buteau) water breaks and it’s not a “monsoon” like in the movies. Instead, it’s just a light “pussy drizzle.” This early scene in Pamela Adlon’s Babes sets the tone for what is to be an honest yet funny depiction of pregnancy and birth. Nothing about this stage in a woman’s life is glamorous, so why have previous depictions made it seem so or have been flat-out inaccurate? The highs and lows are unavoidable, and Babes deftly captures the messy imperfections of motherhood, pregnancy, and friendship. It’s refreshing to watch and the film tackles it all with effective humor.

At its heart, Babes is a love letter to female friendship. Eden is a single, free-spirited yoga teacher, whose best friend, Dawn, is a married working mom with a second child on the way. They’re inseparable but are both at different phases of adulthood. This puts their 27-year friendship to the test, as conflict and tensions rise amidst exhaustion and horror-mones.

Post-birth, Dawn finds herself struggling to breastfeed, tackling an issue many mothers face but is rarely discussed on film. Unable to feed her newborn daughter, she feels inadequate as both a mother and a woman. Her mood sinks, and through Buteau’s performance, you see a light dim within her as she becomes overwhelmed and exhausted, especially when she has to go back to work. Luckily, she has a supportive husband (played by Hasan Minhaj) who helps her through it. But her number one supporter is Eden, who pumps her up at every moment. The story comes full circle when Eden gets pregnant after a one-night stand and she has to navigate her own pregnancy on the precipice of single motherhood. The struggles of both motherhood and pregnancy are touched on beautifully here, thanks to a fantastic script by Glazer and Josh Rabinowitz. The story is full of laughter, tears, and labor pains for both characters.

Buteau and Glazer have known each other for 20 years from being in the same comedy circles, and this is clear from their rapport on screen. Their experience in improv, and comedy in general, makes this pairing a success as they bounce off each other perfectly and you really feel like you’re watching two childhood friends going on this journey together. The natural, improvised banter in comedies is one of the genre’s main draws, and it’s how we learn about the characters without it feeling like an exposition dump. The comedy itself can make or break a movie like this, luckily for Adlon’s film, it’s breezy from start to finish.

As mentioned, Babes is a love letter to female friendship, and the one between Eden and Dawn is presented in such a heartwarming way. It’s the kind of friendship everyone should aspire to have. There are ample hilarious scenarios to keep the audience entertained but balanced with moments of emotion to keep us hooked on this friendship. And it’s really this emotional journey for both of them that is the film’s heart.

There’s a line in Babes where Eden compares life to a “gorgeous newborn baby covered in shit,” and that’s the authenticity that is presented here. Life is both messy and beautiful, but it feels perfect when you have a support system to pump you up and hold your hand along the way.