Retrospect: “Look Who’s Talking” (1989)

The Christmas Season is definitely a time for feel-good movies and nostalgia. “Look Who’s Talking” (1989) directed by Amy Heckerling slots nicely into those notions. Not directly a Christmas film (that wasn’t until the third sequel “Look Who’s Talking Now! (1993)”) it however still holds up as hybrid of an entertaining romantic comedy and something for all the family to enjoy. Starring a mix of talented actors including John Travolta, Kirstie Alley and Bruce Willis; the plot focuses on single mother Mollie (Alley)  who searches to find the perfect father figure for her baby son Mikey (Voiced by Willis).

 “Look Who’s Talking” emerged from what could be described as a “baby boom” of films during the late 1980’s, following on from “Three Men and a Baby” (1987), “Baby Boom” (1987), “She’s having a baby” (1988), “For Keeps” (1988) and so on that dealt with subject matters of impending parenthood. “Look Who’s Talking” however went that one step further taking the narrative from the perspective of the baby himself in which Bruce Willis provides a hilarious and entertaining commentary on the adult’s actions and situations. Cleverly, improvisation would have been a major part of the voice acting and syncing that nicely compliments the visuals of Mikey and other child characters movements; this remains the film’s strongest technical aspect especially for the time of its production. At times it feels surreal but also naturalistic in terms of the every day setting and social issues involved; but at the same time several dream sequences take place as a metaphor to explain Mollie’s fears and anxieties. John Travolta and Kirstie Alley give out superb performances that leaves the viewer heavily invested with the characters following the conventional “rom com” tactics. To an extent it could be interpreted as a feminist approach with the character of Mollie being strong-willed and determined, as well as the refreshing element of the portrayal of Travolta’s character James who comes across as caring and understanding; its also rare to see a male protagonist that is willing to take on someone else’s child without reluctance or fear of fatherhood that is expressed in other films of the sub-genre e.g. in comparison to Kevin Bacon’s character in “She’s Having a Baby” or Hugh Grant’s performance in later film “Nine Months” (1995).

Travolta’s obligatory dance scene!

“Look Who’s Talking” does have something for everyone, in a sense it could be considered an educational format for kids understanding sex (or tadpoles in my case! I was five!!); it has several heart-warming moments as well as comical; the characters are interesting and believable, the most positive aspect of the franchise progressing was to see them become a strong family unit demonstrating Amy Heckerling’s care in her writing and character development. Always a film I enjoyed as a child; but does it still hold up in the latter part of 2011 and for myself viewing it through adult eyes? YES! Despite the evident 80’s fashion, the plot and formula remains applicable, the soundtrack is cheesy but fun, Travolta provides the audience with a obligatory dance number and there’s also a reference to “Saturday Night Fever” (1977) thrown in. While not a masterpiece, if your looking for something family-orientated and light-hearted over the festive period this is one for you!

Hayley Alice Roberts.

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