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(For Day 1 of NaPoWriMo, the prompt was to write a prose poem that is “a story about the body.” While prose poems are an oxymoron and not my cup of tea, I did my best with a focus on a baby’s small body being attended by a frenzied father.)

It was a little body that lay on the changing table, arms flailing, legs kicking, voice attuned to a jarring key to banish all repose. Above the infant, a man scrambled, spurred by the cacophony before him to end it by means he had yet to learn. Forced by need and desire for quiet, he seized the duty he once believed was meant for women, and learn he did. His tools were diaper, powder, wipe, and pin. “I wish I could remember,” he said with hollow chuckle, “what my folks did when I was little like you.” But with every inch and pound his own body had grown, he had forgotten, just as the child he aided now would forget the man tending her. Like a sullied diaper tossed as quickly as it had fulfilled its purpose, the baby’s short memory would drop away. But what the baby had no need of, the man would keep, echoes irksome but dear, long after that body had ceased to be so little.
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MPA rating:  PG (definitely a PG-13 by today’s standards)

It’s been far too long since I reviewed a film suggested by my dear Viewing Companion (VC), whose recommendations have fallen by the wayside amid Blindspots and new releases, so this one is way overdue. Before this, I was only familiar with the 1987 hit Three Men and a Baby via the persistent urban legend that a ghost boy can be glimpsed in a window in one scene. That theory has been explained as just a cardboard cutout of Ted Danson, but the dark legend has overshadowed a largely likable film about three men forced to grapple with responsibility as impromptu fathers.

Directed by Leonard Nimoy of all people, Three Men and a Baby’s title trio are Tom Selleck, Steve Guttenberg, and Ted Danson, all at the height of their ‘80s careers and playing hedonistic bachelors sharing a large New York apartment. Soon, little baby Mary is dropped off at their doorstep, the product of a tryst Danson’s character had in London, and, due to his absence for a movie role, the other two are forced to care for her. There’s a further misunderstanding involving drugs to add some threat to the plot, but the real story is the transformation of the main three, who are not particularly likable at first but gradually grow into their roles as adoptive parents.

With how often the idea has been recycled in film and television, there must be implicit humor at the sight of inexperienced people scrambling in the face of childcare. Like the cross-dressing of Some Like It Hot and others, I don’t really get what is inherently funny about the concept, but it can be done well still. Baby Boom is my favorite such film, but Three Men and a Baby has its moments as the three men grow fond of their charge, whose cuteness is undeniable. There are also moments that I highly doubt would fly in a modern semi-family film, such as full infant nudity during diaper changing, but I suppose it’s just proof that times change. It was interesting to see Nancy Travis of Last Man Standing in a small role as the baby’s mother and feigning a British accent. While the lasting popularity of Three Men and a Baby (a Disney+ remake is in the works) is likely due to its stars rather than the film itself, it’s a pleasant slice of ‘80s entertainment to give young people an idea of what their parents went through.

Best line: (Michael, played by Guttenberg, trying to sing Mary to sleep) “Hush little baby, don’t you cry. When Peter gets home, I’m gonna punch him in the eye.”

Rank:  Honorable Mention

© 2022 S.G. Liput
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