This may or may not be an April Fool's joke, but it certainly wouldn't
be the most bizarre thing we've ever heard: 20th Century Fox has
reportedly greenlit a movie based on the "talking baby" ad campaign for
the financial services company E*Trade. The commercials feature
CGI-brushed babies speaking into webcams in adult voices about the
wonders of E*Trade, as well as other subjects babies don't generally
take an interest in, such as girlfriends and golf. According to a March 30 post
at the pop-culture blog Pajiba, Katie Dippold, a writer for Parks and
Recreation and MADtv, will be responsible for the film's screenplay,
and the plot will concern "a group of talking babies trying to make
their way across the playground." Among entertainment journalists, no
small amount of retching has ensued.
- Everything About This Is Wrong Nathan Rabin, the caustic head writer of The A.V. Club, doesn't mince words: "If you enjoy creepily sexualized anthropomorphic babies who talk and act like asshole thirty-somethings... then boy are you in for a treat." Calling the commercials "viscerally unnerving yet inexplicably successful," Rabin confesses that the news of an E*Trade feature film leaves him "deeply dispirited and ashamed of humanity."
- Part of a Surprisingly Rich Tradition Movie blogger Colin Boyd provides an impressive bibliography of talking-baby entertainment, reaching past the obvious precedent of Look Who's Talking to cite "the weird Ally McBeal dancing baby" and "Baby Bob... a talking infant that pitched Freeinternet.com" nearly a decade ago. (Unaccountably, he overlooks the seminal 1999 work Baby Geniuses.) Still, ultimately Boyd blames "Look Who's Talking, Too... the sequel that showed people you didn't even have to make talking babies funny to justify 90 minutes of our time."
- Move Over, Geico Cavemen! booms Erik Davis at Cinematical. Jubilant headline aside, he's not very happy about this news: "Apparently Hollywood didn't learn that taking funny TV commercial gimmicks and trying to turn them into something bigger (like an actual TV show) really doesn't work. Part of this has to do with the fact that it's a blatant gimmick constructed solely to grab your attention for roughly 30-or-so seconds." But take heart, Davis adds: based on what little is known of the movie's plot, it sounds like "you could pay twenty bucks to see this sucker in 3D in IMAX theaters, or you can simply head over to the local day care right after lunch and watch real babies walk (and crawl) across the playground."
- Isn't This a Bit Species-ist? Mark, the singly-named blogger behind I Watch Stuff, notes that "it should legitimately be a crime to still be making talking baby movies in 2010. Particularly when we still have so many animal species that have yet to be lent a voice through CGI."
- Damned Either Way, sighs MaryAnn Johanson at Flick Filosopher. "Even if this is a put-on, it’s rather telling that we could be fooled by this, what passes for entertainment having sunk so low that this is not implausible," she writes. And "if it isn’t a joke, we’re doomed. Either way, *sob.*"