Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway


Actor Pamela Adlon has a winner with her directorial debut in “Babes.” The film is madcap and warm hearted with great spirit, charge, and charm. It is freewheeling and genuinely funny without being mean.

Dawn (Michelle Buteau) is irritable about having a baby but gets through it with many theatrics on the level of a Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig bit, though a bit more surprising.

Days later, Dawn’s friend Eden (Ilana Glazer) meets the quiet and self-deprecating Claude (Stephan James) on the New York subway, and they end up in bed. Later, Eden freaks, finding that she is pregnant. She has no contact information from Claude, so she decides to track him down. A pair of twins in an office tell Eden that they know of Claude but that he died from choking.

Eden decides to have the baby.

Glazer and Buteau have a terrific comic chemistry. The dialogue is laugh out loud funny. Glazer herself is highly entertaining with her knack for bodily contortion and free associative rambles. The pair have a rapport that is unstoppable.

John Carroll Lynch has a solid appearance as the bemused obstetrician, but the two twin brothers Keith and Kenny Lucas nearly steal the show.

While the word “bitch” might be used a bit too often, this film has vitality, generosity of spirit and true comic verve. Together the two women complement each other in an exciting and original way. Sometimes they seem madcap and zany, almost like cartoons, but at others they are pointed and vulnerable, simply revealing one another as two friends dealing with the maelstrom of motherhood.

At first glance, “Babes” might seem a gross out comedy, but it evolves into a lighthearted portrait of two friends who clearly love one another, and a quirky New York friendship is the glue that holds them together.

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