A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Three Men and a Baby is a 1987 movie in which three devil-may-care bachelors must learn to take care of a baby left on their doorstep. 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, talk of the sex they've had or are having with women. The baby (abandoned by its mother) was the product of one such fling. Sexual insinuation -- woman hints at the size of her boyfriend's penis. Dr. Ruth shown on television talking about women having orgasms. In relation to a heroin-smuggling subplot, some violence regarding a drug dealer is discussed but not seen. It's 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. Some drinking and drunkenness -- especially at a party thrown in the apartment the three men share. Profanity throughout the movie including "bulls--t," "s--t," and "d--khead."
- Parents say
- Kids say
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 may enjoy watching these three self-confident guys crumble when faced with the demands of childcare, and kids could 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?
How does the movie's premise -- and the assumptions behind the premise -- reflect the time when the movie was released?
What do you think has changed (if anything) in the years since this movie was released in terms of parenting, sex, relationships?
- In theaters: November 25, 1987
- On DVD or streaming: April 2, 2002
- Cast: Steve Guttenberg, Ted Danson, Tom Selleck
- Director: Leonard Nimoy
- Studio: Buena Vista
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Friendship
- Run time: 102 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: parental guidance suggested.
- Last updated: March 14, 2020
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