Blast From The Past: Three Men and a Baby
While we find ourselves in 1987, we must cover the highest grossing film of that year. Three Men and a Baby managed to make $10 million in its opening weekend and approximately $167 million during its entire theatrical run. While it was inspired by a French film, it only had a domestic release, which makes its totals all the more impressive. It was directed by none other than Spock himself, Leonard Nimoy, and it starred Tom Selleck, Steve Guttenberg, and Ted Danson as three bachelors living in New York City.
The film begins with our three stars throwing an elaborate birthday party in their apartment for Peter Mitchell (Selleck). Cartoonist Michael Kellam (Guttenberg) is walking around recording the whole affair while Jack Holden (Danson) mingles among the guests. Each of them are flirting with different women and live a fairly lavish and carefree lifestyle. Jack is asked at the party to hold onto a package for a director friend, and he unwittingly agrees before traveling to Turkey for a role in a B movie. Jack leaves a message for his roommates about the package. However, in his absence, a baby shows up on their doorstep with a note. The note reveals that she is Jack’s child and the mother, Sylvia, cannot care for her on her own. Peter and Michael inadvertently mistake the baby, Mary, as the package. What follows is a comical adventure as these three bachelors discover what’s inside the real package while simultaneously experiencing a crash course in parenthood.
I remember watching this film and its sequel often as a child. I adored these films, and it’s a little odd now to watch them as an adult. I can honestly say there’s a few instances of innuendo in the film that I completely missed as a kid. Still, this movie has some genuinely funny moments. As Peter and Michael struggle to figure out baby food, diapers, bottles, and the rest, I cannot help but laugh. Babies are a lot of work, and for someone who has never been around them before, it can quickly become overwhelming. These three men demonstrate just that.
While the premise is funny, though, its surprisingly not the humor that makes it standout. The heart of this film and the best part, in my opinion, is the growth of our three leading men. When the story begins, it’s clear that they are focused only on themselves. They date, but they date as they please, never committing to one woman. They keep a schedule that suits themselves, and all of that is thrown into chaos with the entrance of baby Mary. However, as time passes, she becomes less of an inconvenience. They all come to care for her, and by the end of the movie, they cannot imagine life without her. Their growth is touching, and it’s adorable to see these three grown men fawning over a baby.
Overall, Three Men and a Baby is a simple film with a simple premise that is well executed. While the “package” storyline is a little far-fetched, it still served a purpose in causing more confusion and difficulties for the bachelors. Shortcomings like that, though, are trumped by more memorable and sweeter moments like their performance of “Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight” to help Mary sleep. At the end of the day, Selleck, Guttenberg, Danson, and their little co-star are incredibly charming throughout the narrative. Three Men and a Baby is a cute comedy and one that can be enjoyed even thirty years later.