A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the humor in Baby Geniuses centers around children using salty adult language, repeated groin-bashing and -- you guessed it -- diaper activities. And though this is a film that would seemingly appeal to young children, the sexual innuendo and roughhousing make it appropriate, inexplicably, only for tweens. Some kids may enjoy the diaper gags, but overall the humor is too crass and misguided to recommend to them. And even among tweens, those who feel insulted by bad TV sitcoms shouldn't risk it.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Child behavior expert Elena Kinder (Kathleen Turner) has a theory that all children possess "stored knowledge from an early parent gene pool" that makes them privy to the secrets of the universe, but it only lasts until they begin to speak, when they forget everything. That theory, tested in the controlled environment of Kinder's secret lab, proves correct. One of the children in BABY GENIUSES, Sly, escapes the compound and is reunited with his twin brother Whit (a dual role for triplets Leo, Myles, and Gerry Fitzgerald). Mistaken for his brother by Kinder's henchmen, Whit is taken back to the research center where he leads his fellow toddlers in a revolt against their captors. Back home, Sly is doing the same, enlisting the aid of another group of infants to help set his friends free and reunite him with the brother he never knew he had.
Is it any good?
Several factors work together in making Baby Geniuses a joyless viewing experience. Let's start with a premise that's no more than a veiled excuse to abuse digital effects so that toddlers' mouths and actions can mimic those of adults. The result: supposedly brilliant kids who spend their time parodying Saturday Night Fever and musing about "diaper gravy." The humor seems to be aimed primarily at a young audience, and yet certain scenes are obviously inappropriate for them. After the genius Sly escapes -- by stowing away in a P. Oopie Bottoms diaper truck -- he roughs up a homeless man and takes his clothes, then hops in an unattended stroller and tells the infant girl inside, "Look, I got a problem. Take off your clothes." "Okay, slick," she says, "but at least you could take me to dinner first." He exits the buggy a moment later in her clothes. "Call me," she says.
To the film's credit, it succeeds in making the children appear at least as intelligent as the adults, but even there it has help. Kathleen Turner, who must surely know what the bottom of the barrel tastes like by now, reaches for something akin to Glenn Close's showy performance in 101 Dalmatians, but her rabid snarling is merely embarrassing. There are plenty of other wrenches in the works, one of which invariably hits handyman Dom DeLuise in the grapes, but there's no need to press the point. Suffice to say that Bob Clark, who somehow also wrote and directed 1983's funny and peculiar A Christmas Story, can suffer for his art all he wants; he doesn't have to drag us into it.
Talk to your kids about ...
- In theaters: January 1, 1999
- On DVD or streaming: January 23, 2001
- Cast: Christopher Lloyd, Kathleen Turner, Kim Cattrall
- Director: Bob Clark
- Studio: Columbia Tristar
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Adventures
- Run time: 95 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some rude behavior and dialogue.
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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