PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):
Architect Peter Mitchell (Tom Selleck), cartoonist Michael Kellam (Steve Guttenberg) and actor Jack Holden (Ted Danson) are happy living their lives as bachelors in their lofty New York City apartment where they have frequent parties and flings with different women. Their lives are disrupted when a baby named Mary arrives on their doorstep one day. A note with her indicates that she is Jack’s, the result of an affair with a recent costar. She arrives in his absence – he is in Turkey shooting a B movie, leaving Peter and Michael to fend for themselves in taking care of her. Prior to leaving, Jack had made arrangements with a director friend to have a “package” delivered to the apartment as a favor. Before Mary’s arrival, he calls and leaves a message with Peter and Michael informing them of the “package” and to keep it a secret per the director friend’s wishes. When Mary arrives, they mistakenly believe she is the “package”, even though there is a note from her mother.
Peter and Michael are totally befuddled on how to care for Mary, and Peter leaves to go buy whatever supplies are needed. While he is gone, Mrs. Hathaway (Cynthia Harris), the landlady, delivers a small box (which is the actual “package” containing heroin) to the apartment and Michael tosses it aside while trying to keep Mary under control. After Peter returns, they eventually figure out her proper care, right down to diaper changes, baths, and feedings.
The next day, two men (who are drug dealers) arrive at the apartment to collect the package. Peter and Michael mistakenly give Mary to them instead, and shortly after they leave, Peter discovers the actual package. He runs downstairs to intercept the dealers, but trips and stumbles, and the package’s contents spill. He gathers the heroin and retrieves Mary from the dealers, but retains the heroin while allowing them to take a can of powdered milk. After the exchange, a police officer attempts to ticket them for illegal parking, but they escape. The officer accosts Peter and detains him in the apartment until Sgt. Melkowitz (Philip Bosco), a narcotics officer, arrives to question him and Michael about the drugs. They successfully hide them from Melkowitz during the interrogation, in which they learn that Jack’s friend is a drug dealer as well. Melkowitz leaves with suspicions and puts them and the apartment under surveillance.
Peter and Michael are able to persuade Mrs. Hathaway to babysit Mary while they work. Once they arrive home, however, they find Mrs. Hathaway bound and gagged and the apartment ransacked, apparently by the dealers demanding the heroin. Mary is safe, however. The men continue with their care of her, adjusting to surrogate fatherhood and growing attached to her, until Jack returns.
Once Jack returns, Peter and Michael question him about the entire drug deal and Mary. He replies that he knew nothing about the heroin and initially denies everything about Mary until he reads the note from her mother, Sylvia. He then recalls the affair that eventually led to Mary being born. Peter and Michael do not hesitate in taking their revenge and passing all responsibility of looking after her to Jack, but he quickly grows to love her.
Later, Peter discovers in the mail a news clipping of Jack’s director friend being hospitalized after a mugging (presumably by the drug dealers), with a handwritten note, “Don’t let this happen to you.” They formulate a plan to meet and trap them when they negotiate a deal to deliver the illicit goods. With a recording of the conversation, they prove their innocence to Melkowitz and the dealers are arrested.
By now, they have fully embraced their role as Mary’s guardians. However, one morning, Sylvia (Nancy Travis) arrives, asking for her back intending to take her to London to live with her family. Handing her over, they quickly find themselves miserable and desperately missing her. Deciding to stop her and Sylvia from leaving, they rush to the airport to try and persuade the latter to stay, but they arrive just as her plane leaves. Defeated, they return to the apartment, where they find both Sylvia and Mary. Sylvia explains she doesn’t want to give up her career but can’t do this if she has to raise Mary alone, so Peter quickly invites her and Mary to move in with them with Jack and Michael’s agreement, and she agrees
Three Men and a Baby. There really couldn’t be a better title for this film, except it doesn’t tell you everything that goes on in the film. However, it does bring you in, doesn’t it? I had to get this one in before next week, since it will be leaving Netflix streaming, but do I need an excuse to travel back to the 80s?
What is this about?
When an infant named Mary is left on their doorstep, three bachelor roommates channel their feminine side and become surrogate parents to the tyke.
What did I like?
3 distinctive guys. Here we have 3 guys living in a rather large penthouse apartment. Nine times out of ten, we would get the token homosexual overtones, 2 of the guys would be carbon copies of each other, or they would be fighting/sharing the same woman. None of these things happen, though. Care was taken into making each of them into their own character. I can appreciate that decision and wish this was done more often.
Art. When the film begins, we see Steve Guttenberg’s character painting a mural on the outside of their place depicting him and his roommates. Throughout the film and even the last thing we see is the art on the wall. You can’t help but notice how much time was spent on those walls and the fact that the filmmakers did all but make it a part of the plot is even more remarkable.
Sacrifice. So, Baby Mary is left on the doorstep. Ted Danson’s character, who is the father, is over in Turkey shooting a movie, leaving Guttenberg and Tom Selleck’s characters to take care of her. Now, these are two bachelors who know little to nothing about babies, but even more impressive is the fact that they didn’t just drop her off at some orphanage or the police, but rather put their lives on hold for this bundle of joy. Admit it, if you were in the same situation, that kid would not have stayed!
What didn’t I like?
Drugs. It wouldn’t be an 80s movies without some kind of drug smuggling plot. I have two things to say about this. First, it heroin and there is a baby. It would have been so easy to just stick the stuff in with the baby powder and then let events happen organically from there. Second, this whole drug smuggling thing seemed like it was added last minute by some yuppie studio exec who thought this film needed a bit of action. You could literally take the drug stuff out and it wouldn’t hurt the film in the slightest. Perhaps replace it with more funny stuff showing how clueless these guys are when it came to baby stuff would be a nice replacement.
Cheers. Ted Danson’s character brought to mind Jon Stewart from Big Daddy. He is a major part of the plot, but for most of the film, he’s gone. When he does appear, the chemistry is off between he and his roommates, not to mention the fact that they try to make him a bit on the airheaded, loopy side. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I just wasn’t a fan of Danson’s character. Perhaps it is best to stick to reruns of Cheers.
Mother of convenience. Of course, after the film has had its big action filled climax, the mother (who is strangely British) appears, and we have another subplot with her that takes a few minutes. I don’t have any issue with her showing up at the end of the film, because it makes sense for her to not be around, given the story. However, I do take issue with how the shoehorned in a subplot where they chase her down. Was this really necessary? It just seemed like filler to me. If they really wanted to put that in there, since this is an 80s flick, a montage would have worked just as well, if not better, if you ask me.
I really don’t have much to say in conclusion about Three Men and a Baby, partially because the internet is acting up and I need to get this done, saved, and posted before it goes out and I lose all the work I’ve done tonight. For the most part this comedy will make you laugh, especially when Tom Selleck goes to the store to get baby supplies. Unfortunately, they don’t keep that up, which is one of the big flaws of this film. The potential for hilarity was pushed aside for the drug smuggling angle and/or baby mama drama at the end. Still, this is a film worth watching. Yes, I highly recommend it, as you can watch this at nearly any time during the day or night. Give it a shot, why don’t you?
4 3/4 out of 5 stars