Do Over: Three Men and a Baby
Legal Note: This ‘Do Over’ may contain spoilers, or rather they would be spoilers if you happen to be the only person to have failed to have seen this film.
Never underestimate the importance of the simple pleasures in life. The smell of grass after the rain. Strangers falling over in the street. Eating an entire cake and spending the rest of the day feeling thoroughly ashamed of yourself. Tom Selleck’s moustache.
It is the latter which brought me by the power of sheer animal magnetism to revisit Three Men & A Baby, the 1987 classic film about three gentlemen who enjoy hanging out with a strange baby. Directed by Spock, the script was based on the 1985 French film Trois Hommes et un Couffin (Three Men & A Cradle), but that version doesn’t have Tom Selleck’s moustache in it so it can go feck itself.
Peter, an architect, Michael, a cartoonist and Jack, an actor, are three bachelors living in New York in the ’80s. They throw sexy parties. They live in an offensively large penthouse apartment we must assume the architect pays for. They entertain ladies at all hours. They go to the park to play with a frisbee like it’s a perfectly acceptable thing to do. As far as the miserable decade would allow, life is bliss.
However, when Jack is off shooting a film, Peter and Michael discover a baby left on their doorstep with a note from a ‘Sylvia’ claiming Jack put said baby in her. THERE ARE HILARIOUS CONSEQUENCES. The rest of the film is padded with heroin smuggling, cases of mistaken identity, musical montages, a charming serenade and the mandatory chase through the airport, as all decent films should be.
Eventually Sylvia comes back to get Mary, seemingly under the impression that leaving your infant with complete strangers is a rather brilliant babysitting service, and then through a series of plot points is invited to move into their apartment because the ‘Men’ cannot bear to let little Mary go. If I were capable of the full range of human emotion I would shed a tear.
Don’t let the tone so far fool you. This is a brilliant film in almost every possible way but one can’t help have a few niggling questions when watching this nearly 25 years later.
When the baby appears on their doorstep, the film explains why they didn’t just call the police like normal people would. Peter and Michael were told that Jack was accepting ‘a package’ and they were to ‘put it aside’ until he got back. Obviously horrified, on the understanding that a grown man would believe that babies don’t require maintenance, they went with it.
But why were there no further questions asked by their friends, their colleagues or even the valet of their building? These renowned bachelors suddenly acquired an infant overnight and no one thought it a little puzzling? Did no one raise an eyebrow about how they got said baby? Peter turns up to work at the building site with a baby in a tiny, but let’s face it, pretty ineffective pink hard hat without a partner or pregnancy previously mentioned and no one seems to care? People don’t just grow babies in a box under their bed.
When Sylvia returns, she and Jack have an important discussion about the child he didn’t know he had. Surely, like anyone would, he would naturally try to ensure the child was actually his before inviting both the child and the mother into his life, right? Their conversation goes as follows:
“Sylvia, there is something I need to know. Is she really mine?”
“Yes she is”
That, Ladies and Gentlemen, is the full extent of his paternal investigation. Granted, the baby seems to have inherited his comically large forehead but a little DNA test wouldn’t go amiss.
For all he knows, Sylvia could be trying to swindle money from them. They are quite wealthy, or at least we are lead to believe so because if park-facing New York apartments were that attainable in reality we’d all have them, so it’s not beyond the realms of possibility. ‘Sylvia’, if that is her real name, could have been biding her time watching them from the bushes, patiently waiting for them to become attached so she could strike them at their most vulnerable. THIS MAY NOT EVEN BE HER REAL BABY. Sylvia could be some sort of evil genius. She has the obligatory English accent for a start.
The chase through the airport. This is not exclusive to Three Men & A Baby by any means, but it is a trope that will always raise an eyebrow. Setting aside the security issues occurring in the last decade, has it ever truly been possible to chase someone through an airport? Have the Hollywood powers at be ever been to an airport? You can get as far as the check-in desk without a plane ticket before security politely ask you to leave. Forget this romantic ‘jumping of barriers only to arrive at the window to watch the plane pulling away’ business. You’re more likely to get shot in the arse with a taser.
Who invites a perfect stranger into their home without even knowing them? For all they knew Sylvia could enjoy stapling live hamsters to the walls for kicks or labelling her food with passive aggressive post-it notes. Of course, this occurs in a world where people don’t throw parades at the very sight of Tom Selleck’s moustache so I’m assuming everything goes.
In case you don’t follow the rumour mill, Three Men and a Bride is supposedly in development. Tom Selleck may be holding up well and Ted Danson is maturing like a fine wine but has anyone seen Steve Guttenburg recently? The once proud Mahoney now has a head on him like a baked potato.
The ageing cast aside, take a moment to remember the last time there was a sequel to a beloved ’80s series? Yes that’s right - Indiana Jones & the Raping of Your Childhood.
May God have mercy on our souls.