Directed by Charles Shyer and released in 1987, Baby Boom stars Diane Keaton as J.C. Wiatt, an executive woman in New York, who sees her life turned upside down when distant relatives die in an accident and she inherits their baby daughter Elizabeth. J.C.’s life has always revolved around her studies and later on her career. As she makes it clear to her boss in an early scene in the movie, having a family isn’t on her to-do list and she breathes work.
The movie makes a great job at showing that being a mother isn’t an inherent quality for women. I love how J.C. first doesn’t want the child, and finds herself stuck with the baby as the lady handing it to her has a plane to catch. The same way, J.C. has no idea of how to take care of the poor kid nor how to do “basic” things such as changing a diaper. She had no time to prepare, nor did she want that in the first place, so the way she struggles with everything is very well portrayed.
J.C. eventually wants to use the clause in the relatives’ will that she can put Elizabeth up for adoption. It makes sense for her, and I find that the way she changes her mind is well done too. It isn’t simply the bond that starts to be built between she and the baby, but also how J.C. still stick to her “values”. She says it straight to the little girl when she takes her back with her after, walking outside of the adoption office: no miracles should be expected. And no miracles happen. It is a long work in progress.
Beyond learning to be a mother, J.C. also struggles in her professional environment when her having a baby is seen in a very negative way, to the point that she ends jobless, because she can’t be on top of everything in the company on a 24/7 hour basis. She also ends as such because she doesn’t want to focus on things she considers below herself.
Following that, she decides to move to Vermont, buying a house about which she has been dreaming for a while. Of course, the dream turns out into a nightmare – though she continues to build a relationship with her adoptive daughter and learns new things. She is bored at first, once the novelty is over, and then the house falls apart and all her money gets spent to try to fix it.
Yet, J.C. decides to fight back and to go back on top of her game and eventually starts a small business of baby food, which encounters great success after early difficulties, on both local and then national level. She becomes a successful entrepreneur when people could have thought she was lost and unfound in Vermont. It is also great to see that she does research about starting her own business and plotting her new project. She was presented from the opening as a brilliant woman, but she still has things she can learn, including in her new line of work, and not just as a mother. It is encouraging and positive to see that J.C. is willing to do this.
The scene at the end when her former employers and business acquaintances have offered her an interesting proposal, and that she decides not to accept it, is one of my favorite. I like that she says that after all she has done on her own, she doesn’t need them to chaperon her to get further, that she wants to do things her way, and keep her life as she has now arranged it. This is a beautiful scene.
So, the romantic part of the movie… I mean I included this movie in my romantic series! I like how it isn’t the forefront of the narrative and comes in rather late. After hearing she needs to pay a few thousands more dollars to fix something in her property (again), J.C. passes out and wakes up in a doctor’s office (portrayed by Sam Shepard) and starts to talk about all that isn’t going well in her life, from being stuck in Vermont to having no intimate life. Soon enough, she realizes that he isn’t an actual doctor but the vet of the sector and is extremely offended, while he is mildly amused by her reaction. She storms out of his workplace.
This is classic antagonistic early stages of a relationship, and their banter will stay as entertaining through the rest of the movie. I like that while their relationship isn’t the main focus of the story, they still have a great built up before they eventually end together, and they show genuine interest in the other’s projects as well. Keaton and Shepard also have very solid chemistry! The sexual tension between them is obvious more than once, and they don’t need an actual bed scene to convince the audience. The moment the morning after between them in the kitchen is telling enough, from the sweet and playful embrace to him saying he normally needs more than twenty minutes of sleep per night: these are great and say/show what there is to.