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Indy Film Fest: The Babymooners

by on July 15, 2016
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The Babymooners - inside

For more information and showtimes, click here.

A babymoon is slang for a trip or vacation a pregnant couple takes right before their first child arrives. It’s a wonderful practice and I highly recommend it. It’s basically your last chance to bond as a couple before years of diapers, potty training, spotty sex and unending exhaustion. My wife and I did the Grand Canyon when she was six months gone, and we still look back on the memory with unvarnished fondness.

Shaina Feinberg and Chris Manley went a different route. They’re real-life people who made a movie about having a kid and called it “The Babymooners.” Written and directed by them, it’s part documentary, part fantasy, sketch-comedy pieces mixed with seriocomic confrontations with the abrupt arrival of real adulthood.

The story is split a dozen ways at once. When we first meet Shaina, she’s close to full term and recording a video diary for her child. Then we rush back in time to her first meeting with Chris: Standing on the New York City streets he muses, “I need to meet a nice Jewish girl who doesn’t like to leave the house.” And voila, his feminine version of perfection presents herself, walking a Shih Tzu.

The movie continues to bounce around the timeline, alternating showing them courting, then midway through the pregnancy, then trying to get pregnant — presented as a magical series of dances as they walk through their apartment door — and so on.

The whole thing has a deliberate early Woody Allen feel to it. Both Shaina and Chris and are funny, smart people who project an aura of ironic joie de vivre — cool people who know they’re cool — while harboring self-doubt and occasionally crippling depression. He’s a recovering alcoholic and she goes to see a therapist (though the doc needs more help than he gives).

Shaina even introduces her own parents (Mary and Paul Feinberg), both psychotherapists themselves, as characters in the movie, playing themselves. This is the sort of film where anything can happen, like when a woman hocking memberships in a food co-op segues seamlessly into giving Shaina advice on having a baby before she’s too old.

In the opening scene, she runs around the street with a microphone asking whether she’ll lose her creative energy or become unattractive after having the baby. “I don’t find you attractive right now,” one man deadpans. In another, she riffs on how male visionaries are allowed to dress in cool suits for magazine covers, but females are expected to show their boobs.

It’s a fun movie, and Feinberg and Manley make for an endlessly engaging couple. If they’re anything like their screen counterparts, they’re the sort of people you’d want as your best friends.

I’m not sure if “The Babymooners” really adds up to much. But it’s sort of the cinematic equivalent of a baby photo album. Whatever happens to them, they’ll always have this movie to remember the before time.

The Babymooners Trailer from shainafeinberg on Vimeo.

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