Vegas Baby

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
Vegas Baby Movie Poster Image
Emotionally raw Morgan Spurlock docu on IVF.
  • NR
  • 2017
  • 73 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Documentary follows people who have entered a contest to be chosen to receive in vitro fertilization from a well-known clinic in Las Vegas. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

While not role models per se, the documentary shows how some of the couples and single women trying to become pregnant through in vitro fertilization cope with the hope, frustration, stress, despair, and possible joy in the outcomes. 

Violence
Sex

If sex is referenced, it's in the context of reproduction. 

Language

"F--k" used by one of the hopeful mothers-to-be. "Pissed." 

Consumerism

The documentary centers on one in vitro fertilization clinic, shows the doctor who started it appearing on Oprah, and gives him space to talk about his clinic, what they do, and their successes. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Champagne drinking. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Vegas Baby is a 2016 Morgan Spurlock documentary that follows the lives of some entrants in a contest where the winner gets free in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment in a Las Vegas clinic. Unsurprisingly, the documentary shows the raw emotions and reactions of struggling couples and single women experiencing the hopes, setbacks, frustrations, disappointments, and, in some cases, successes in their quest to have children. Both the good news and bad news these aspiring parents experience is presented in the moment, as it happens. One of the women uses "f--k" a few times. The film presents different sides to the debate: the ethical gray area of having people make videos telling their stories of infertility to win a contest, the great expense of IVF, why adoption isn't an option for some, and the conflict between religious faith and scientific progress. Besides the subject matter, the documentary should inspire discussion on the challenges and potential concerns when cameras film private moments for public consumption. 

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What's the story?

Each year, a clinic in Las Vegas that specializes in in vitro fertilization (IVF) holds an annual contest in which the winner is flown to Las Vegas and receives IVF treatments free of charge. VEGAS BABY follows the lives of some of the contest's entrants: a lesbian Lady Gaga impersonator in New York City, a wife of a devout Catholic in Texas who wants a child of her own to rekindle the flesh-and-blood family connection she lost when her father and siblings were killed by a drunk driver when she was a child, and a couple in Green Bay whose struggles to have a baby are putting a strain on their marriage and their finances. The frustrations, hopes, despairs, and, in some cases, joys that come from their attempts to become pregnant through IVF are shown, as well as the benefits and ethical concerns not only of IVF, but also of having an IVF contest. 

Is it any good?

This documentary shows the many arguments swirling around IVF while never losing sight of the emotional toll experienced by so many couples and single women struggling to conceive. It reveals raw emotion that may be uncomfortable for those who haven't experienced the struggles of infertility firsthand. It shares stories of heartbreak and happiness, of ethical, moral, and religious concerns in conjunction with one of the most fundamental human desires. 

Vegas Baby centers on one IVF clinic and on a doctor who first made IVF available to the public -- a doctor who, while motivated by idealism, also readily admits to having a knack for marketing and promotion. The ins and outs of the actual contest are shown: we see how the decision as to who will "win" is made. Without losing emotional impact, the documentary manages to present many different viewpoints while allowing the audience to come to their own conclusions based on what they are shown. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about documentaries and privacy. What is the line between what can and should be shown in a documentary like Vegas Baby for public consumption and what should be edited out, out of respect for the privacy of the film's subjects? Is there a line? 

  • How does the documentary show different sides to the arguments made? What do you think about these arguments?

  • How would this documentary be different if, for instance, it was made by someone who was strongly in favor of adoption, or by someone whose opinions are based on religious beliefs that equate infertility with "the will of God"? 

Movie details

For kids who love documentaries

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