Babies

  • Review Date: May 7, 2010
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Release Year: 2010
  • Running Time: 79 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Mesmerizing film for kids and parents who adore wee ones.
  • Review Date: May 7, 2010
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Release Year: 2010
  • Running Time: 79 minutes

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The film offers much food for thought about different ways of childrearing: Some babies are in more sterile environments, and others aren’t. Some babies have more access to books and toys, while others make do with plastic bottles and baby goats. On one hand, it shows that babies thrive and find glee in all sorts of situations, but on the other, it makes us think about unfamilar parenting styles that, if unchecked, could induce judgement calls.

Positive role models

The four babies featured in this documentary are the stars, and in many ways, they remind us of how determined, persistant, curious, interested, and willful we once were.

Violence & scariness

Not really a concern, except the kids can be hard on pets. Also, some scenes might induce wincing among those unfamiliar with certain cultural traditions, as when a Namibian mother shaves her baby’s head with a knife. Or when a child seems on the brink of disaster, such as when Bajar teeters atop a barrel.

Sexy stuff

Not an issue, though moms are shown breastfeeding and, in Namibia, topless, as is the custom there.

Language
Not applicable
Consumerism

Hardly an issue, though neon signage (HMV, for instance) is everywhere in Tokyo. Also, titles of books are visible.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this documentary -- which features four families from different parts of the world -- holds large appeal for both parents and children alike. There are no subtitles and several different languages spoken, but the universal messages of family and childrearing come through easily. Some families portrayed come from countries where nudity is commonplace (Namibia, specifically), and there are scenes of mothers breastfeeding children, but the images are placed in their social contexts. The movie offers a way for kids to learn about what it’s like to grow up elsewhere in the planet, and to acknowledge differences as well as similarities.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Director Thomas Balmes and his crew head to four points on the globe to film four babies: Mari of Tokyo, Japan; Bayarjargal (Bayar for short) in Mongolia; Ponijao of Namibia; and Hattie, born in San Francisco. Their everyday lives are captured on film as they discover the world in their first year of life, during which they learn how to discern their parents’ and siblings’-- and even their pets’ -- faces; master crawling and walking; and embark on adventures marked by (and independent of) language, cultural, and geographical differences.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

To watch BABIES is to celebrate infancy, regardless of ethnicity or geography. The filmmakers let the images speak for themselves -- there are no subtitles and little camera trickery -- and the soundtrack, though delightful, doesn’t intrude. It’s just as well: The babies are infinitely watchable. Watch Mari wail and flail over uncooperative toys; Bayar pull rank with a cat; Ponijao attempt to stand up to a cousin; and Hattie find joy in making sounds.

Yet, although the filmmakers are presenting their subjects without comment, the juxtapositions of scenes do make a statement. For example, Bajar and Ponijao are free to explore in the muck, literally, while Hattie and Mari are in relatively sterile environments, which begs the question: Does this mean anything? Do Bajar and Ponijao need more tending to, or are they lucky because they are more in touch with nature? (And they seem none the worse for wear for it, either.) Is one way of parenting better than another? There’s certainly lots to ponder: the mysteries of childhood, cultural diversity, and humanity itself.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how babies are raised in different countries: Are there any similarities among the four portrayed here? What are the main differences? Why do you think the filmmakers decided to make this movie?

  • What can we learn from the way babies live in different parts of the world? Did you find yourself making judgements about unfamiliar childrearing practices? Why or why not? Do you think the filmmakers presented the four families objectively -- or was there a bias?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:May 7, 2010
DVD release date:September 28, 2010
Cast:Bayar, Hattie, Mari
Director:Thomas Balmes
Studio:Focus Features
Genre:Documentary
Run time:79 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:cultural and maternal nudity throughout.

This review of Babies was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Parent of a 3, 5, 7, and 9 year old Written byannie j December 28, 2010
AGE
6
QUALITY
 

Funny, sweet and worth watching

I LOVED this movie! It was so interesting to see how different children are raised all around the world. I laughed at how funny little ones can act whether it be in dirt, on carpet or in a bath of water. Definitely worth watching!
What other families should know
Too much sex
Great messages
Great role models
Kid, 11 years old May 3, 2011
AGE
2
QUALITY
 

Cute!

This movie was so cool!!!! it was funny, and just perfect for my family. the babies are so cute, and you can see other cultures' babies!
What other families should know
Too much sex
Great messages
Kid, 8 years old February 2, 2011
AGE
4
QUALITY
 

Alexis lee

persnally i love it!
What other families should know
Great role models

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