A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that, despite its light premise, this film is rife with adult material and themes. The movie opens with a montage of women arriving at and leaving the bachelor pad shared by the three main characters, with the clear implication that they're not there to deliver cookies. The bachelors sleep around. The baby (abandoned by its mother) was the product of one such fling. In relation to a heroin smuggling subplot, some violence regarding a drug dealer is discussed but not seen. It is implied that the heroes and baby are in danger. The entire premise of the movie rests on the assumption that women are somehow natural parents while men must learn.
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What's the story?
Three swinging bachelors deal with and learn to love an infant left on their doorstep in THREE MEN AND A BABY. A gorgeous apartment on Manhattan's upper west side is shared by three bachelors, architect Peter (Tom Selleck), actor Jack (Ted Danson) and comic book artist Michael (Steve Guttenberg). Their world is turned upside down when they find baby Mary in a basket at their door. She has been left there for Jack by her mother, who had a fling with him a year earlier. Because Jack is out of town shooting a movie, Peter and Michael try to learn about parenting as quickly as possible. While they think they will be happy to hand the task over to Jack when he returns, they find that they have enjoyed being fathers. When Mary's mother returns to reclaim the baby, all three men are unwilling to go back to their old lives without Mary.
Is it any good?
A huge hit when it was first released in 1987, Three Men and a Baby really doesn't get as many laughs as it should from its premise. In 1987, Selleck, Danson and Guttenberg were major stars, and familiarity with their usual personas (Danson is simply playing a variant on his character from television show Cheers) was a major factor in the film's success. But the film hasn't aged very well. The time-consuming subplot pitting the three dads against a heroin smuggling ring completely clashes with the rest of the film. Nor does Leonard Nimoy's flat direction add anything.
Parents will enjoy watching these three self-confident guys crumble when faced with the demands of childcare, and kids will laugh at their unsuccessful attempts to keep a clean diaper on baby Mary, but there are too few such moments spread out over the course of the film. Surprisingly, the sequel Three Men and a Little Lady is a bit better.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about this movie's premise. Do you think it is correct -- men must learn to parent and women are born knowing how? Did you question that assumption while watching the film? How do such assumptions and premises affect viewers' perceptions? Do you think this filmmaker meant to influence how viewers see parenting? Or was it simply a convenient plot device? Is it okay to use stereotypes or false assumptions to drive a movie's comedic action?
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