'Babes' Takes Baby Steps Toward Comedy Gold

Directed by Pamela Adlon

Starring Ilana Glazer, Michelle Buteau, Hasan Minhaj, Stephan James, John Caroll Lynch, Oliver Platt

Photo courtesy of Elevation Pictures

BY Karlie Rogers Published May 23, 2024


Ahead of a promotional screening of Babes in Toronto, co-writer and star Ilana Glazer made a surprise appearance and spoke about the pride she has for this film, and the friendship she has with co-star Michelle Buteau. I'm sure we've all heard the warning to not mix our personal and professional lives, and I get it — many people would rather not run the risk of damaging a lifelong friendship for the sake of work. However, Glazer and Buteau prove that friendship can actually be that lifeblood of a compelling buddy movie. The directorial debut of Pamela Adlon (of King of the Hill fame), Babes offers a raunchy, hysterical and surprisingly heartfelt and wholesome take on motherhood and friendship.

The film follows deeply single Eden (Glazer), who, after a one-night stand with charming actor Claude (Stephan James), discovers that she's pregnant, so she turns to her best friend Dawn (Michelle Buteau), a successful career woman and married mother of two, for help. With her bestie at her side, Eden prepares to tackle single motherhood with gusto, determination and a Glazer-like affinity towards the absurd.

In Glazer's own words from the Toronto screening, this film is "very New York." The city serves as the perfect backdrop to Eden and Dawn's lives as they prepare to navigate motherhood together. Glazer and Buteau are a great comedic duo with natural, magnetic chemistry and banter. Eden's bluntness is underscored by Glazer's natural charm, and where Glazer has her well-timed, witty quips, Buteau steals every scene as Dawn and delivers a hilarious yet heartfelt performance, as she struggles to manage her time between her family, career and best friend. When the two friends inevitably reach a boiling point on Eden's "babymoon," audiences sympathize with both women's perspectives, making their eventual reconciliation all the more cathartic and emotional at the end of the film.

Babes keeps you on your toes in every scene, and the film is further punctuated by its entertaining physical action and visual gags. Glazer and Buteau hit every comedic beat with well-timed intention and accuracy, and they fully commit to the bit, no matter how gross and outlandish it can get. Additionally, Hasan Minhaj holds his own against the two comedic powerhouses as Marty, Dawn's husband.

Co-written by Glazer and fellow Broad City alum Josh Rabinowitz, Babes' tendency to rely on gross-out humour tires after a while, and also seems to stunt the characters' development, particularly Eden's, throughout the duration of the film. Dawn's building resentment toward Eden's carefree attitude and lack of preparedness is very understandable. Additionally, some scenes linger for a bit longer than what is probably necessary, restraining the momentum of the film, especially towards the third act.

At its core, Babes is a tribute to female friendship and motherhood. Eden and Dawn's friendship is the beating heart of the film, and their love for each other echoes the real friendship between Glazer and Buteau. And the film's grand, sweeping, Say Anything-esque gesture and confession of devotion — an act that is generally reserved for romantic pairings — is a triumphant celebration of friendship that feels not only deserved but much needed.

Babes delves into the existential problems and hilarities of parenthood and the friendship between women with Glazer's witty comedic touch, fully owning the absurdity and beauty of motherhood and pregnancy.

(Elevation Pictures)

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