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Monday, June 17, 2013

Three Men and a Baby

Just for the heck of it, even though Father's Day was yesterday I thought that I would do one more entry. Today's the Monday Matinee, after all, and I thought that I would choose an entry that was father friendly.

Of course, the plot for this particular film is kind of outlandish and out-there. But, hey, for some reason it worked.

Now, before I go ahead with this week's Monday Matinee, I have something that is on my mind. When I was a kid, I used to listen to the radio all the time. I had a little portable radio on my nightstand in my bedroom, and the dial would always be tuned into PAC-93 on the FM dial. PAC-93 was, at the time, one of Upstate New York's most popular Top 40 stations. They played all the latest hits from the pop charts, a few classics, there was a 1980's program that aired on Saturday nights, and on Sundays, you could listen to Casey Kasem's Top 40 (one of my all-time favourite radio programs). Sadly, the station switched formats years ago, and I haven't listened to it in quite some time. But when I was younger, it was my all-time favourite, as they didn't play as many radio commercials as other radio stations tended to do.

Because, as you all well know, radio station ads can be more annoying than the average ad you might view on television. And most of these radio ads are pretty forgettable.

Well, all except one, that is.

The radio ad that I am going to talk about is one that I can still remember almost 20 years later. I don't really remember who paid for the ad, but it was talking about children and their fathers, and the one part of the ad that I can hear playing through my head is the quote that read “it takes a man to be a dad”.

And, this is a slogan that seemed to ring through loud and clear in today's movie spotlight.

You see, this movie is all about a trio of bachelors who are enjoying living their lives in New York City as the free spirited single men they are. But when a baby girl is quite literally dropped into their laps, will the men know exactly what to do?

Well, that's just the question that Ted Danson, Steve Guttenberg, and Tom Selleck all asked themselves in the wildly successful comedy “Three Men and a Baby”. The movie was the biggest grossing film of 1987, and it won a People's Choice Award the following year for Favourite Comedy Motion Picture. And, believe it or not, a former Trekkie directed this movie! In fact, this was the third directing effort by Spock himself, Leonard Nimoy!

Released on November 25, 1987, “Three Men and a Baby” starred Danson as actor Jack Holden, Guttenberg as cartoonist Michael Kellam, and Selleck as architect Peter Mitchell. And, all three of them were definitely enjoying living their bachelor lifestyle in New York City.

Now, because New York City was a really expensive place to live in back in 1987 (and even MORE expensive than ever to live there now), the three men all shared an apartment to save money whenever possible. And, when Jack was overseas filming a movie, the last thing that Michael and Peter believed that they would see at the door would be a baby girl.

And, yet, that's exactly what happened.

It turns out that Jack has been a very busy boy in between acting gigs. He got involved with one of his co-stars, and a note attached with the baby reveals that the child is Jack's! Needless to say, Michael and Peter are left holding the bag and minding the baby.

Peter and Michael are rather confused as to why they would be stuck watching baby Mary, but then both are reminded of a conversation that they had with Jack prior to his departure to Turkey, about how he had spoken to a director friend, who had arranged through Jack to have a “package” delivered to the loft as part of a favour. The only stipulation was that Jack had to keep the package a “secret”.

So, naturally, despite the fact that Baby Mary arrives at the guys' loft along with a note that was written by her mother Sylvia (Nancy Travis), dumb Peter and dumber Michael come to the “logical” conclusion that baby Mary must be the package. Because sending infants through a courier service is perfectly legal in the United States.

And, yes...that was sarcasm.

In actuality, the “package” that was intended for Jack's director friend (which was the package that Jack had really arranged to have dropped off at the apartment) is intercepted by the landlady. And, that package was filled with bags of heroin. Because sending illegal drugs through a courier service is perfectly legal in the United States.

Ah, sarcasm again. I'm getting good at that!

Of course, Peter and Michael are blissfully unaware of this fact, as they are too busy taking care of Mary. They've been changing her diapers, making sure she is fed, playing games with her. The two men really developed a bond with Mary over time, and eventually, both men seem to have the feeding/bathing/changing schedule down pat.

Now, here's where the fun begins. The two drug dealers who have come to the apartment to collect the heroin that Jack and his director friend arranged to have delivered. And, Peter and Michael, believing that the men are there to collect Mary, stupidly decide to give the baby to the drug dealers.

Okay, okay, so the film makes out that these three men are some of the dumbest people ever born. At least it did well in the box office!

Luckily, Peter finds out that they made a mistake, and attempt to switch the heroin package with baby Mary...but a twist of fate accidentally breaks open the package, and he ends up tricking the drug dealers into giving Mary back to them while getting arrested themselves! And, when Jack comes back and he is informed of what happened while he was filming, Jack is horrified to learn that he has gotten himself tied to a drug selling operation unwillingly...but not shocked to learn that he is the father of Mary. And, Peter and Michael, who had spent several weeks looking after Mary happily turn over their responsibilities to Jack. Luckily, Jack falls in love with Mary at first sight, and he too decides to dote over the child. So, what eventually happens is that Mary ends up gaining three fathers out of the deal...her biological father, and two surrogate fathers.

But after Jack's director friend is seriously injured in a mugging attempt brought upon by the drug dealers who had gotten him into trouble, Jack, Peter, and Michael must find a way to bring down the drug operation while simultaneously taking care of and protecting Mary. Will all of them succeed? And, what happens when Mary's mother makes an appearance with some shocking news? Will the three men be able to cope?

Well, you know that I will not tell you the answer...but you also know that there was a sequel made in 1990 entitled “Three Men and a Little Lady”, so naturally, there must be a happy conclusion. I just won't tell you how they got to that ending.  Let's just say that in the case of this movie, that "it takes a man to be a dad" ad that I talked about earlier in this fits!

But, the movie does feature a very popular urban legend.

Apparently, there's a scene that takes place an hour into the final cut of the film that features Ted Danson and Celeste Holm walking through the loft carrying baby Mary, and in that scene, there is what appears to be a human figure standing in the window. Forty seconds earlier, that image was not present, leading people to believe that the figure was actually a ghost! The story went that the “ghost” of the boy was a nine-year-old boy who died in the home where the film was shot prior to the movie being made, and that the story floating around was that the boy had committed suicide with a shotgun.

Turns out that the actual figure is simply a cardboard cutout of Ted Danson. It's amazing where urban legends are developed, isn't it?
Here's a little bit more trivia.

  • Ted Danson and Nancy Travis would later work together on the CBS sitcom “Becker”.
  • Baby Mary was played by twins Lisa and Michelle Blair.
  • Director Leonard Nimoy was forced to hide the microphones out of sight on the set after the babies playing Mary kept getting distracted by them.
  • The movie is actually a remake of a 1985 French film.
  • Pampers paid a total of $50,000 to the producers of the film, simply because they wanted their products to appear in the film. Sigh...I suppose product placement was around way back in the 1980s.
  • Michael J. Fox and Tony Danza were considered for roles in the movie, but both were too busy filming “Family Ties” and “Who's The Boss?” respectively.

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